Reflections for My Younger Self

An Interview with Dhani Jones, 11 Year NFL Veteran

Written by: Connor Golden-Sims, AthLife Advisor

Throughout our lives, we all have experiences that can shape who we become. Have you ever wished that you could go back and advise your younger self? I was able to sit down with Dhani Jones to talk about his life and wanted him to share his reflections on what he has learned along the way.

Connor Golden-Sims: There is a certain ideology of living authentically. What does it mean to live an “authentic life”?

Dhani Jones: If the authentic life is knowing who you are, it takes time and hopefully it happens synchronistically. As you progress through life you learn different things about  yourself. Then as you grow and develop you become more authentic to who you want to be. It is a constant change. People always ask me, “How was your transition out of the NFL?” My response is, we are always in transition. I don’t think there is any moment when this magically happens. Even if you are in business thirty years, the business is changing therefore, you are changing as well. Moments in time are constant and it is a process that takes a lifetime. I still have a lot that I want to accomplish, but it is important that you live within your truth and appreciate every step of your journey.

Connor: Have some of your beliefs changed since you were younger?

Dhani: I was always taught that a strong work ethic can take you to where you want to go in life. However, how and who you work with can determine how hard you work. It is paramount that you put the time and energy into the things you desire. As you pursue your goals, your circle of influence will get smaller. You have to learn how to work smart. Collectively, this will lead to better productivity and efficiency.

Connor: What is something that you wish someone would have told you about life?

Dhani: I wish someone would have told me to listen and be mindful. The game of football and the game of life have lots of players. You have to always mind the angles and actually evaluate where people are coming from. Playing a team sport you would think that everyone has the same common goal, but it’s more like a game of survival. Ultimately, people will reveal themselves and you will quickly realize who is in your corner and who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Keep your sphere of influence tight, but be sensitive enough to notice advice no matter the source. It could come from a random person on the street so, “Pick up your head!” The advice might not have come from them, but could have been channeled through them from someone else. Words of encouragement and advice could be mediated by anyone at any given moment in time.

Connor: On our journeys through life, there are always paths not taken. Do you have any regrets?

Dhani: I wish I wasn’t so attracted to the shiny object. However, if I didn’t see the shiny object I wouldn’t have seen something that was important. If the shiny object was the sacrifice, then what I learned was what made it worth the time. We use a lot of metaphors and analogies in life, but the fact is, curiosity is the most important thing we have as human beings. If that weren’t the case how would you know and experience the things around you. If life is about learning, it is okay to seek the shiny object, but it’s not okay to not learn a lesson from that experience. You need to have an understanding of your purpose because certain aspects of life aren’t always as great as they seem.

Connor: What have you learned over the course of time that you apply to your life today?

Dhani: It is okay to be different and diversify your experiences. I am only 43 years old and I hope that I have a lot more life to live. I am a traveler that on one side has lived the life of an amazing sport, but on the other I have a constant thirst for knowledge. It is important to explore your interests outside of sport, but also to remain committed to the game that you play. You need to know what your boundaries are and what is right for you. Learn to tap into and develop your emotional intelligence. You know what’s right and what’s wrong and when you’re doing too much or too little. Sometimes you have to suffer some consequences along the way, but this is how you figure out the authenticity of who you are as a person. Pick and choose moments where you want to do different things. Even though we all love a good buffett, we can’t try every dish. You can go back to the restaurant again and try new things. It is important to diversify your pallet and diversify your experience because it makes you a more well-rounded person. As a result, you become a better participant in the journey of life.

Connor: Any closing thoughts that you can share?

Dhani: I have found that living my authentic life has required me to possess self-knowledge and self-awareness. I was extremely blessed to have been able to play in the National Football League and I will always cherish those memories and experiences. My journey is ongoing as I continue to discover new ideas and meet new people. I have embraced who I am at my core and I act in accordance with my own values and beliefs. We all lead different lives and have our own visions for success, but in the end I believe that we strive to find that small measure of peace and our own authentic life.