Joanne kneels down to capture the perfect shot on her camera of a skater in the skate park. Photographer, passion, skater, skate park.

How Having an Athlete’s Mind Helped Me Find Purpose in my Next Chapter

When an injury put an end to Joanne Stephan’s tennis career she looked to her game to prepare for her new career.

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A Growth Mindset Journey

Hustle. Don’t give up. Stay strong. You’ll get there. Dig deep. We routinely hear these phrases intended to trigger our motivation. But what do they actually mean to you? How far are you willing to go to find the spark that lights your fire?

Having been an elite athlete for half my life, in my work there was always a goal to achieve, a purpose to the endless grind of trying to be the very best. I thrived on competition, as the thing that fueled my hunger to improve.

Two people playing tennis on a sunny day.Tennis, sports, fitness, motivation, team.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the hours of practice mentally prepared me for my journey away from the court.

As a tennis player, I had worked tirelessly my whole life to achieve a top three ranking in Australia. I was defined by my accomplishments and my sport. It was who I had become as a person; known for the many achievements, sacrifices and constant will to keep going and not give up even through the toughest of times.

After an accident ended my career as an athlete, my world changed. Life was just never the same.

Who am I? What was next? Those questions haunted me each day. And at the core of my uncertainty was the greatest question of them all, the question of purpose. What was my reason to wake up each day?

Fast forward 10 years, and I’m now a photographer/videographer, licensed drone pilot and content creator and, most crucially, I love what I do. This new career path didn’t just happen. I had to work hard to find my place, to learn to adjust, to find the opportunities that were available, just like being out on a tennis court.

Adapting the same athlete mindset allowed me to transfer those skills into searching for a new career path. I had to treat it like a competition – learn from the losses and celebrate the wins. I hustled and never gave up even when it all seemed impossible. I found myself competing once again in the world of business with others who were far more experienced. Sometimes you have to face many rejections before you start winning.

Joanne takes photos of a skater doing tricks in the skate park. Skater, skateboarding, photographer, passion, creator.
Getting close to the action keeps my passion alive.

Today, I love my newfound career and my passion is evident in my work. Just like being an athlete, I’m focused and giving 100% every time. My hunger to improve at my craft is stronger than ever. I thrive in my focus to achieve, to learn and to be the best I can be. Every job I do is another step towards victory.

They say if you love what you do you will succeed. My love for sport took me to the top of my game but today the sky is no longer the limit in my field of play. Somebody once told me that victory is what happens when 10 thousand hours of preparation meet with a moment of opportunity. If I can apply this approach to my career, then I may just be at the top of my game once again!

What unexpected turns has your career taken? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Find your purpose

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by Susan Andreson 01.03.2018
The story about Joanne the athlete really resonated with me! It's so inspiring to hear that challenges can be overcome with the mindset of an athlete. It is the most beneficial thing to love a sport so much that complete dedication becomes your way of life! I would not have the drive or resilience to adapt to challenges or change without my participation in sports - where I learned to work and still continue to work to achieve my dreams!
by Robert Murray 03.04.2018
Pursuing your passion will lead you to your created purpose .
by Nam 28.07.2019
Amazing story! Love this so much. I am so glad you love what you do. This is so refreshing to hear. “Sometimes you have to face many rejections before you start winning” What a quote! Keep up the fantastic work, I’ll definitely be following your journey.

First time here?