8 Lessons We Can Learn From Tony Hawk

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Confucius

Who doesn’t love Tony Hawk? As a kid growing up, I’ve played perhaps all his video games and he used to be my child hood idol even though I couldn’t skateboard. I loved everything about skateboarding when I was younger, the tricks, the skill, the balance, the clothes, the music, the culture , everything!

Being a 11 year old in India, where people hardly even tried to skateboard or even knew of it, was tough, especially being such a huge fan of the extreme sport!  I tried to learn to balance my self on the skateboard but just ended up bruising myself multiple times, I just couldn’t do it – So i settled to doing tricks on my BMX bike or my roller blades.

Anyway, Tony Hawk was my childhood idol and now looking back on my youth I wish I had continued to try and learn to skateboard. If I had just believed I could do it and kept at it who knows, right? I could have been able to do those awesome tricks! It would’ve been so cool. Since I decided to write this piece I did a bit of digging on Mr. Tony Hawk and found a lot of things online which were extremely useful and fascinating.

The man is a genius! Not only has he sold a billion dollars worth of video games – In 1999, Tony teamed up with Activision to create the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game franchise. The Tony Hawk video game series became one of the most popular game franchises in history (and has now surpassed $1.4 billion in sales)- He has been at the top of his sport for nearly two decades – Being crowned vertical skating’s world champion 12 years in a row and continued being in the top 5 for the others.

Being a dominant force in his sport aside, the main thing is that every single day since he was 11 years old, he’s done what he loves to do — skateboarding.

So I stumbled upon this piece written by somebody and which contained an interview of Tony so I decide I would edit it and share it with you!

Lessons We Can Learn –

1) Teachers

When he started there was an entire generation of teachers who came before him who were able to teach him his first tricks.

Training technique gets better as time goes by. So you can either spend years figuring out the better training techniques on your own, or you can find the teachers who can show them to you in a few hours. Or if you can’t meet them in person then watch! Yes, use the internet and youtube and videos and watch and learn!

The 11-year-old Tony Hawk watched everyone before him. Learned the bad habits and how to avoid them.

Later, when he started in business, he learned from his older family members who were in business before him. Every step of the way he learned from teachers.

2)Immersion

There’s “vert skating,” “street skating,” other kinds of skating. There’s the sub-culture of skating: the music, the clothes, the rebelliousness of the culture.

The entire subculture started because California had a drought. Water was rationed. Swimming pools were emptied.

With swimming pools emptied, kids with skateboards illegally jumped from pool to pool, learning the new skating style of using the walls and curves of the pool to do tricks.

Eventually, they’d get chased out of a pool. Rebelliousness was embedded into the entire sport.

I think it’s this rebelliousness in the DNA of skateboarding, plus the wounds to show for it, that makes it so appealing for kids.

You’ve got to stay immersed into what ever you are doing to be the best at it!

And for a 48 year old who after almost 40 years of skateboarding still immerses himself every day.

For pleasure, yes, but also because this is how he stays on top of the hundreds of companies that would like to take his place as the brand bearer of the entire game.

3)Deliberate Practice

Thanks to Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, people mistakenly think if they practice something for 10,000 hours they will become great at it.

“You have to have feedback as quickly as possible. 10,000 hours with a teacher, with constant feedback, is critical.” says Anders Ericsson the professor who first theorized on the 10,000-hour rule.

What better feedback than skateboarding? You skate, you make a mistake, you fall, you bleed. Repeat.

If you don’t get better, you break bones and have to stop. If you learn from your mistakes with the help of teachers, you stop bleeding.

With business, it’s more difficult. It can take years for a business to fail or succeed. So you don’t get that instant feedback.

To get better at something like business, or writing, or anything, you have to break it up into small chunks that teach you quickly how not to fail.

Or you can figure out a way to every day break your bones if you fail.

4)Get better every day

“Every day I tried to get out of my comfort zone, to take more risks,” Tony told me. “I would try to learn new tricks every day the entire time I was growing up.”

“Do you still do that?” I asked him, over ten years since he won his last world championship.

He thought about it a few seconds. “Yes,” he said.

5)Learn to fall

Literally.

There was a pool where we were doing the interview. Tony stopped for a few seconds to look into it.

“See,” he pointed down at the pool and looked at me, “that radius is only about two feet. You need about five feet.”

I didn’t understand what a “radius” was in this context.

“What would happen?”

“If someone skated here they’d smash right into the wall,” Tony said and then he kept walking.

A few months ago he built a new kind of ramp. It was a spiral. I watched a video of it.

He kept trying to skateboard on the spiral and falling every time. At one point he showed he bloody knee. Again, he was 47 years old at the time.

But he had mattresses protecting his fall on the ramp. And he kept moving the mattresses lower and lower until finally after dozens of tries he removed them all together and was able to skate the whole ramp successfully.

“You have to learn how to fall,” he told me. “You have to learn how to do a safety roll, how to slide on your knees, how to protect yourself so you can get up and try again.”

In business he fell a few times, but his pickup time was almost as fast as skateboarding.

To become the best skateboarder, and then the best in the skateboarding business (he’s sold over a billion dollars worth of video games with his name on it) he had to become the best at falling.

He had to be able to look at a situation and know instantly if the “radius” was enough.

I don’t know what that means. It’s why I probably fall too hard.

When we first met:

“I have to ask a stupid question.”

“I hope you do,” he said.

“When you are upside down in the air, and doing a rotation, how is it that 10 seconds later you aren’t dead.”

“You have to learn how to fall,” he said.

This is so true in all areas of life.

6)Love what you do

In the late ’80s, early ’90s, in the US skateboarding disappeared.

Everyone was worried about being sued. Police started being more aggressive. Insurance rates went up on any property that was being used for skateboarding.

Competitions dried up. The older skateboarders switched careers.

Styles changed from pool (vertical) skating to street skating.

All the old stars were disappearing from the scene. Equipment companies were going out of business.

Tony Hawk only wanted to skateboard. He continued to skate every day even though there were no more serious events.

He started to master the newer style of street skating even though he was older than all of the other street skaters.

He didn’t know what else to do with his life. He started editing videos for other skateboarding companies.

“Around 1993 or 1994 I was worried skateboarding wouldn’t come back,” he said, “but I only wanted to do this. I had to take out a second mortgage on my house and I had a young kid. I was scared.”

By that time, because of this persistence, his skateboarding company was one of the few left in the space.

And by that time, because he kept skateboarding every day, he kept improving his skills while other pros dropped off.

Then the X Games hit on ESPN. Skateboarding was a featured sport. Tony Hawk was the world champion. Sponsors started to call. “Everything took off after that.”

The moral of the story –>

Persistence and Love = Abundance.

If you are persistant and you love what you do, you will be rewarded!

If you don’t believe me check out a piece I had written earlier.

Check out my blog post on perseverance –> YOU MUST PERSEVERE.

7)Reinvention

You’ve got to be able to re-invent yourself and what you do. Whether in business or in life – keep re-inventing whether its innovation in your business or it’s something personal ie about you.

Why do so many athletes make a ton of money in their careers and then go broke?

Tony turned pro at age 14. He made $0.85 on his second check as a pro. By the time he was 17 he was making over $100,000 a year and bought a house.

But a few years later, there was no more money in being a pro.

He reinvented into video editing skate videos, then sponsorships, then he went from being an individual with an agent who hooked up his sponsorships, to starting his own company to license his name and sell merchandise.

Then, with various gaming company partners, he became the largest producer of skateboarding video games, selling over a billion dollars worth of video games.

Every day, just like he had to find new tricks in skateboarding to stay the best, he had to find the new tricks in business to stay on top in every area of the sub-culture.

He started youtube channels, he promoted other skaters, he funded other skateboarding companies, and he kept his finger on the pulse of the culture.

“I can’t feel good about the products we put out,” he told me, “if I’m not every day staying involved in the sport at the ground level.”

All along the way he took the skills he learned becoming the best in the world at one thing (skateboarding) to apply those skills to become the best in the world at business.

8)Pay it forward

You’ve always got to contribute to the community. Not just when you get rich or achieve success, even when you haven’t. That’s the beauty of life- If you can help others and make their lives better.

No matter his love for the business, his love and appreciation for the sport showed more, even as he gets older and continues his reinvention.

He started a foundation. He’s built over 500 public skateboarding parks.

When we were waiting for the event to start, he took out his phone to show me a video.

He was describing the skating at the skatepark down the street from where we were that he mentioned he had skated at earlier that day.

He showed me a video he took of a kid at that park who was flying up the ramp and into the air. We watched it for awhile.

“Man,” he said, and he paused, “look at that kid rip.”

I just love Tony Hawk and I admire him as an athelete and a business man. If you don’t know who he is or what he’s accomplished(mainly people in India). He’s the man who has pulled this off –>

Yes that’s a 900 degree spin!

Death-defying. Terrifying. Extremely difficult and Unbelievable!

I’m going to leave you with some music from the video game series, it’s a playlist that I had made a long time ago.

Here it is

I salute you Tony Hawk. You thrilled me as a kid, and now as 25 year old I have massive respect for you.

Have a great week everybody 🙂

Cheers!

 

 

 

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