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Leadership & Mindset: Why you need to try sports you suck at.

This story was originally posted on my Instagram, HeyXueMei, where I share stories every week on how to improve your mental attitude towards leadership and entrepreneurship. I train entrepreneurs to become super-entrepreneurs for a living at Startup Cabin’s Tribes program.

 If someone told me 5 years ago, that I ‘d be the closest to a cowboy you could get in the inner city of Stockholm, I would have laughed.

Now though, two of my main hobbies are horse riding and shooting guns… Well, why is this relevant to you and how the *$*%# does is relate to the digital industry and being an entrepreneur?

I’m a sport shooter in competitive handguns. Meaning I shoot Beretta pistols every week and aim to compete in field shooting and rapid fire-shooting. I’m new in the sport, and learn every week.

Why would someone so pacifistic do that? Well, pistol shooting demands extremely controlled focus, the ability to slow down you heart rate, your breathing and be calm under time-pressure. You need to know you body and mind. Every shift in posture, breathing and though effects your scare results on that black and white board at the end of the shooting range. 

I would say it’s one of the most extreme mindfulness challenges I’ve ever encountered. 

As my club mentor says: “You can’t think about shit that happened at work at the shooting range. You will shoot like a drunk crow. Sharp shooting will tell you how you’re doing in life. Your results will tell you if you’re stressed out, tense, frustrated, hungry or tired. You mind and body can’t hide from the scores.”

Horse riding demands agility, non-verbal communication skills and confidence that the 6'9" / 175cm withers height, 1000 lbs/ 450 kg horse will obey you every instruction. Grounding yourself and stepping into the stables with confidence, and an open and inviting body language is crucial to have a good relationship with a horse.

Both my main sport make me a better dealmaker, a more confident speaker, a calmer leader and a balanced person. The horses, as well as the points on my target, will tell me if I’m stressed out at work or not focusing. 

Multi-tasking and constant distractions in today’s work environment will make you not only loose focus, but get worse at keeping it.

Yes. You heard me right. You’ll get dumber.

If you keep your body and brain under constant negative-stress (which all long term stress is), it’ll deplete your body of vitamins, have a harder time processing information and worst of all, make you take less informed and strategically built decisions.

You’ll take decisions based on old patterns and your reptile brain. The easy paths for the brain to work through. So all your hard work improving your entrepreneurial skills, leadership style and most importantly, your weekly success rytm, will be lost. 

Find a sport that challenges you. Mentally, physically. And most importantly: You’re not allowed to be great at it when you start out. 

I repeat. You can’t ace it. Because then you’ll get no struggle out of it. You’ll just get a false sense of accomplishment. So that’s why I picked up sharp shooting as a completely new sport, and horse riding, as I had a break of several years since I sat in the saddle the last time. 

I could have chosen to go back to swimming. Something I’ve done since I could voluntarily throw myself of a boat. (Which was early on and a frequent problem for my adventurous sailing parents. You can see more about that here:

I’m a natural swimmer. I swim twice as fast as the average person. Without any formal swimming practice. And I’ve done for years and years. But hopping back into the pool won’t be hard. I did it a couple of weeks ago at a spa to see what it was like. With a hurt shoulder, I still swam like I’d never gotten up of the water. The body simply remembers.

But riding, that was a challenge. And I have to get back onto a live animal. Do I still have a good communication style for them? Do I have the right chemistry with this horse? How do I react to different temperaments and types of horses? 

In the end, it will give you that cool, calm and collected confidence that will help you forward. Overcoming your fears will give you kick! And the struggle of failing and making mistakes will simply make you tougher. 

What sports do you fear? Try a new one.
I dare you!



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Xue Mei has been featured in Dagens Nyheter, Cap&Design, DigitalTeknik. Expressen talking about building businesses, brands and working smart as an entrepreneur.

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Topics: Leadership & Mindset, Goals and Accountability

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