When you have a talent, a gift, or awards to your name for a sport, it is easy to rely on those to get things in life. Of course, you work hard, but you also are boosted with constant praise and recognition for what you can do.
When that sport is removed by personal choice or external force, there is a reckoning that happens. Who am I? What do I do now? Do I even matter anymore?
I’ve had few guests on the podcast who understand that experience similar to mine. I believe that most can relate to the feeling of having to back off from something you love or even step away entirely, which is crushing but voluntarily choosing to when you could keep going to work on a business, that can be hard to admit. While no one is judging you, it can feel like you are wasting your talent, that people are going to be disappointed in you.
And our guest today knows that all too well. Jesse Thomas is a former professional triathlete, CEO of Picky Bars, podcast host, as well as father to Zadie and Jude and husband to Lauren Fleshman.
We talked about struggling to feel like you are enough, figuring out your identities, and how being an athlete of any kind(and I mean athlete in the sense of anyone who participates, not professional) can help make you a better person and better at what you do outside of your sport.
How We Define Ourselves
While Jesse is well known as a former professional triathlete, entrepreneur, and podcast host with his wife Lauren, he shares that the largest part of how he defines himself personally is just his family. The most important thing to him is being a great dad.
“Priorities ebb and flow. We have specific times in our lives where we have the best chance or ability to achieve a specific goal that is finite. And in order to put time into that, you do need to sacrifice other things for a little while,” he shares.
“As long as you’re communicative about the length and duration and depth of that sacrifice, then you can often get through it.”
During Jesse’s time focusing on racing and Picky Bars, Lauren was the primary parent, and now they’ve switched. With Lauren working on a big project, Jesse is the primary parent.
“We certainly hope that we’re teaching them lessons about self-care and the pursuit of things that bring you joy and hopefully make an impact in the world.”
Writing a blog and doing a project with Triathlete Magazine made Jesse realize the emotion he was carrying in the decision to stop racing professionally. “I’m super thankful for everything, but I’m gonna move on to the next phase of my life,” Jesse said. “It felt really good. It felt it was a relief. Like I can now fully pivot into the next phase of my life, which was around becoming a “professional” “unprofessional” CEO for Picky Bars as the majority of my focus.”
Confidence is key
Confidence is the tool Jesse says he learned from racing and it transcended into life with family and with running Picky Bars. Confidence that it’s going to work out regardless of the challenge you face. As athletes, we ride such roller coasters with injuries, training, and races. But that teaches you a lot about business, especially when it comes to identifying what you can and can’t, and believing everything will work out in the end.
Picky Bars is a reflection of Jesse, Lauren, and Stephanie, the founders. It’s a brand that promotes positive messages and in doing things around healthy positive body image, sustainable relationships with food, and inclusion.
“What what we want to do now is build it too, to a place where it’s making a super positive impact on all of our communities with, great product, great messaging, great givebacks, and making it an amazing place to work. “
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Thank you to Jesse, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.