Hard work pays off

What I learned when I left home at 16 to join the Junior National Cycling Team, and why it’s important for parents to embrace youth athletics.

Paul Raphael LeBlanc
3 min readAug 11, 2023

At the age of 16, I embarked on a unique journey, leaving my family behind to train as a member of the Junior National Cycling Team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. This extraordinary experience has shaped who I am today and imparted lessons I carry with me as an entrepreneur.

- Independence: Moving away from home at such a young age, I quickly learned to be responsible for myself. This independence has served me well in business, allowing me to make decisions and navigate challenges confidently.

• Self-Discipline: Competing at a high level requires commitment and relentless effort. In business, as in sports, the dedication to working hard, day in and day out, is critical to achieving long-term success.

• Embracing Suffering: Athletic training taught me to be comfortable with suffering and use it as a tool for growth. In business, facing difficulties with a positive attitude helps to overcome challenges.

• Managing Stress: The pressure of high-stakes competition taught me coping mechanisms invaluable in the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship.

• The Pursuit of Excellence: Becoming an elite athlete takes time and patience. Similarly, building a successful business requires a long-term vision and perseverance.

• Hard Work Triumphs over Talent: Natural talent is an asset, but hard work is the real differentiator. Whether in sports or business, those who put in the most effort often perform the best.

• The Value of Winning and Losing: Winning is rewarding, but losing imparts essential lessons. Understanding that not everyone receives a trophy, and that’s okay, fosters growth and maturity.

• Teamwork: The success of an athlete or a company often depends on a committed team. Collaboration makes success possible, from coaches to support staff in sports, and colleagues to mentors in business.

My time at the Olympic Training Center was about more than winning races; it was an education in the principles that guide life beyond the velodrome.

For parents contemplating their children’s involvement in competitive athletics, I would offer this insight: sports are not merely about physical achievement. They are a classroom where young people learn about commitment, resilience, collaboration, and the pursuit of excellence. These lessons equip them with skills that will serve them well in any path they choose in life. Not surprisingly, I hire a lot of athletes.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have competed, to have won, and even to have lost. Each experience has shaped me, and the wisdom gained is a treasure I continue to draw upon in my professional life. Encouraging children to embrace competitive sports could be a powerful way to instill in them the virtues that lead to personal and professional success. It’s more than a game; it’s a foundation for life.

On my way to winning my third National Championship title

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Paul Raphael LeBlanc

CEO of Zogics.com and ZogicsPet.com | Managing Director of ArdentFitness.com | Entrepreneur | Inc Magazine Best Workplaces | Inc 5000