Allow me to reintroduce myself

Marques Colston sitting on stairs

In my most notable previous career, I was a 10-year NFL veteran and Superbowl Champion with the New Orleans Saints. I was fortunate to have an incredibly successful career there, leaving as the all-time leader in most statistical categories. However, when it was time to hang my cleats up and retire I was still 32 years old and there was no blueprint on what to do next.

My casual interest and curiosity in technology (mostly as a consumer) led me to look into venture capital, a space other athletes were getting into at the time. My career as an athlete gave me access and it was a great opportunity to see and experience different roles within a new and innovative industry. At that time, I was running fast, networking, and squeezing my way into any door I could find to continue learning to find a viable lane forward.

But after a few years of hustling, I started to see a trend. In many roles and opportunities I saw, people wanted to pick and choose which parts of me they wanted. People didn’t take time to consider nor were they interested in any additional value my experience could provide. Most only saw me in one way, as the former football player, and made general assumptions about who I was and what my capabilities were. Some just wanted me to invest so they could entice other investors. Some wanted to leverage my network to get into doors they couldn’t on their own. And others only valued me as a mascot or pitchman for their companies.

I knew I had value to offer. I spent 20+ years of my life priming my mind and body to perform at the highest level against the best athletes in the world and knew there will valuable skills that would translate. But after feeling minimized and reduced to a fraction of who I was over and over again, I knew I had a decision to make…

  • Keep traveling this path knowing that I would have to keep dealing with this same challenge. It meant accepting that others will only value pieces of me. I could keep moving forward hoping I could eventually change minds and hearts, but my potential was in someone else’s hands.

OR

  • Choose to change direction and take my future into my own hands. It meant I’d have to start over and build a new pathway forward. I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the momentum I’d been building, but a new start would allow me to utilize 100% of my skills, talents, and lived experiences.

Pivoting wasn’t an easy choice, but it was the only choice if I was determined to be authentic to myself. But that meant that I’d have to start over and disregard much of the branding positioning, networking, and business development work I had done the previous few years. It also meant I needed to dig deep within myself to define a new path forward– one that I could leverage the full breadth of my skills and lived experiences. And that pivot is what brought us together today.

Change is opportunity masked as adversity

I believe that each of us has a unique and differentiated value that exists beyond the technical skills a job or a profession requires. Unfortunately, it often gets overlooked, goes unrecognized, or is under-appreciated. The reality is that for many of us, our current roles don’t make space for our 100% authentic selves to show up. We feel like we have to show up as a representative of ourselves to continue climbing higher. And when that occurs for so long, it becomes easier for us to lose more of ourselves in small, daily increments until that representative becomes how we start to view ourselves.

That type of incremental shift in your self-concept can negatively impact your personal and professional growth, and ultimately changes the way you view your long-term goals and what success actually looks like to you. In realizing this for myself, I was able to discover a passion for helping people like yourself who may be facing similar challenges.

Sometimes we have to pivot our mindset and approach to take our potential into our own hands. By embracing change and uncertainty, you can unlock new professional creativity and possibility beyond the limitations that others place on your potential.

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Each issue is fueled by Marques’s personal and professional experiences, through success and setbacks.

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