This past week was an emotional roller coaster that is finally over. Yesterday afternoon at 2:44pm I received the news that my 14-year old son made the high school basketball team. On the surface that might not sound like a big deal but from what we witnessed in the Viruso household, it is incredible.
Ryan is a freshman at Hough High School, one of the largest high schools in the state. With close to 3,000 students, it’s almost twice the size of prestigious, local Davidson College. The Hough sports teams are always competing for state championships and the school produces numerous division one athletes every year, even ones who have gone on to win college national titles. Many good athletes, who could play sports at most high schools, receive the unfortunate news every season that their dreams of playing for their high school are not a reality. So it goes without saying that unless you are an exceptional athlete, your chances of playing sports at Hough are very slim.
Most kids’ destiny of playing sports at Hough has already been determined at the adjacent middle school that feeds the high school with 2,000 students in three grades. Students in seventh and eighth grades have the opportunity to play middle school sports and coaches will have close to one hundred kids trying out for teams that only have twelve spots. The majority of kids who don’t make those teams either lose interest, transfer to smaller schools or just quit. Not Ryan.
Ryan is one of those eighty kids who was told “no” when he tried to play for his middle school basketball team. After not making the team in seventh grade, he was upset but knew going in that it is was a long shot to make the team as a seventh grader. So he committed himself to working hard over the next year and would come back in eighth grade and make the team. As a parent, I enjoyed watching and participating as I my son matured and worked hard for something he was passionate about. There are not many 12-year old kids who wake up at 6am and head to the YMCA for a two hour workout before school, but that’s where Ryan is different. There is a passion and desire inside him for the game of basketball that can’t be taught. It is that passion within that drives him and wakes him up each and every day when his body is sore or he just wants to sleep in and take the day off like a normal kid. It’s that desire to be great that motivates him to take those fifty extra free throws after a two-hour pick-up game at the Y or hit the gym for weight training after school while his friends are out playing.
I see people every day who wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch some TV, go to bed, and then do it all over again. And if you ask most people why they do it every day, they don’t have a great answer. They can’t tell you what it is inside them that drives them to continue doing what they do. This is why most often performance is mediocre and excellence is rare. It is also the reason why many people give up on their dreams, jobs, and marriages when things get tough or are they presented with rejection. You see, Ryan doesn’t play basketball because he just loves being around the other guys, being part of a team or just playing in games. No, he loves the game, everything it is about and how it makes him feel. It is that underlying passion that drives him when things get hard or he is faced with rejection, told he is too small, too slow, or not athletic enough. Ryan is on a mission, a mission to be the best he was made to be. No one will control his destiny other than him. This is why the kid who was in my arms with tears in his eyes the night after finding out he was again cut from his middle school team in eighth grade woke me up the next morning at 6am ready to workout again at the Y.
So when a kid who is the only player who never made his middle school basketball team makes the JV team at Hough High School, it’s a BIG deal.
As an owner of Rocus Networks, I challenge myself every day with the questions: Why do I do what I do? What is my underlying passion and mission? I owe the answers to myself, my family, my employees and customers. Like Ryan, I have a reason to wake up every day when I sometimes don’t feel like it or my body is sore (just because I am getting old). I have a reason to keep going when someone rejects my ideas or proposal. Ryan has taught me to reflect on this and come up with the answer. And it’s simple. I want to help people. Help people protect themselves, their families, their companies, their employees, and their customers.
We are all under attack and our digital economy is being threatened. When we started Rocus Networks three years ago, we sought to do one thing and one thing really well, cybersecurity. Over the past eight months we took a big risk and chose to invest our own money into developing a platform to protect small and medium enterprises. There were times we second guessed ourselves and thought it may just be too difficult but we stuck to the mission. We stuck to the mission because we knew we were doing the right thing. We stuck to the mission because we are passionate about protecting people. Cybersecurity is complex and requires very skilled people coupled with great technology to be successful. This is why cybersecurity is a major problem for businesses and we read about the latest breach every day. There is a major shortage of qualified resources and the gap is widening. Our mission is to solve this dilemma and provide an all-inclusive security-as-a-service platform that is affordable for any size business and significantly reduce their risk. That’s why I wake up ready to conquer the world. I know I am making a difference, especially when I receive a call from a customer thanking us for what we do for them. This is my motivation and why I am so passionate about what I do.
Thank you, Ryan for my biggest life lesson. I love you and I am proud of you. The journey has only begun. Let’s go change the world together.