• John Panepinto

5 Fundamentals From Jakub Szott On Work Ethic, Grit, Kaizen, and Making It Happen


What’s up guys! John here - we’ve had some great features so far, and I’m excited to bring you another great one today.


I’ve always loved sports - as a kid I had dreams of being a professional boxer, and then a professional basketball player. As I got older, my interests shifted, and I dived headfirst into the world of business.


One thing that has stuck with me though - is using sports and athletes as a source of learning and inspiration in my own work that I do.


I always study professional athletes who are the top of their game - and I use that same blueprint - of regimented training, focus, hard work, and consistency - and apply it to my world. It’s enabled me to become a high performer at my game.


If you want to win at your craft, study the winners of the sports world - and apply those same principles to what you do.


Today’s feature - Jakub Szott - is a rising star in the CFL, and was recently drafted by the Ottawa Redblacks, and is someone you can learn a lot from in this regard.


I’ve known Jakub since high-school - I’ve seen him put in the work, make the sacrifices, and keep his long term mission top of mind.


Now that he has made it a reality (and he will continue to strive to greater heights) - I thought it would be great to have him featured. He’s someone a lot of young people can draw inspiration from, and can look to for strong fundamentals.


Introducing Jakub Szott:


Since the age of 14, Jakub has dedicated himself to the game of football. At 6’4, 305 lbs - he doesn’t just bring the physical gifts it takes to play the Centre position - but he brings the mindset, work ethic, coachability, and focus it takes to fill that role, and play the game of football at the highest of levels.

I remember when quarantine first hit, and the world was in shambles - with gyms shutting down, and everyone being taken out of their element - Jakub was one of the first people I saw who was quick to adapt, and say “the show still goes on”.

He got creative, adapted, and put together a makeshift home gym, and was still getting after it with squats and deadlifts - as if nothing changed. No excuses there. That’s the ‘adaptability’ and no excuses mindset, I always reference in my blogs, being embodied.


I reached out to Jakub this past January to be our next spotlight interview - as I know he’s a great source of inspiration, and is a great role model for ‘doing the work’ as I like to say, day over day.

So, without further ado, here’s what Jakub Szott had to say.


5 Fundamentals From Jakub Szott:


Q: What would you say is the one thing we have control over in life, that can have the biggest impact, if used correctly?

Overall I’d have to say work ethic. It’s stereotypical to say, but for good reason. It’s damn true.


You can separate yourself from others through your work ethic. Hard work always WILL show.


When I say work ethic - i’m talking about the pursuit of ‘constant improvements’.


The Japanese have a term for this, and it is something that we have had posted in our weight room, “Kaizen.” This term describes that pursuit of constantly getting better, each and every single day.


Think about all of the things that you do throughout your day, are they helping enrich your life and helping you achieve your goals? Are you maximizing your time or are you just wasting it?


We have one shot at this life, there is no re-run.


Nothing can be done overnight - but remember that there are an infinite amount of actions that you can take daily to help improve yourself. It all comes down to work ethic.


“If you’re building a wall, you don’t start by saying ‘I am going to build the biggest wall’, you start by setting out to lay that very first brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day, over and over, and soon you have a wall” – Will Smith.


It all starts with one brick, one step, one action.

Q: If you could point to one quality of yours, that started your ‘upward spiral’ of success in finding your way in life - what would it be?

For as long as I can remember I have always been extremely observant of my surroundings.


There is a lot that you can learn from watching the people around you, learning from their mistakes, absorbing the fundamentals behind their successes.


For me it was all about being observant in my younger years, knowing what I did want to be, and knowing what I didn't want to be.


Be observant - and then use that knowledge and information, to grow and shape up the person you want to be. That’s been it for me.

Q: What principles do you live by that keep you on your path?

Number 1 - The concept of Kaizen.


It is something that I have thought a lot about, all throughout this quarantine, each and every single day.


I remember being in high school and pursuing this path that I am currently on now and working my absolute butt off to achieve my goals.


I did not know of the term then but then when I got to university and listened to guys that are older than me and guys that I looked up to as where I wanted to get to with my own path speak about their choices; I soon realized how much more I could do.


Number 2 - Going above and beyond.


In the classroom - doing ALL of my homework, not skipping questions or taking shortcuts.


In workouts and training - doing 11 reps and pushing for that extra one, while others may stop at 10.


Q: What's one piece of advice you’d give a young person of today’s world who may be lost, or may be on the wrong path, but is actively looking to find their way and make something of themselves?


Use your time wisely and learn each day.

Something I have been doing is reading 10 pages of a good book each day.


By good book I mean something that will help you out as a person - whether it be financially, as a leader, or in any area of life really.


10 pages a day is about 15-20 minutes of reading however that equates to 3650 pages a year, roughly 5 books.


I have learned more and gotten more development from doing that than I have compared to a lot of other things.


A quote that always gets me is “everyday, we go to work, every meeting that bores us, everything we do just for money, or out of obligation, all the time we kill, we are giving our life for it. So it better be worthwhile. MAKE IT WORTHWHILE.”


Truthfully I do not know who said it but just think about it.


We have to do things in order to get by, but are you really making the most out of it or are you just killing time?


At the end of the day, that’s one day you will not get back ever again.


So make sure you’re learning each day, and you’re using your time wisely.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration or “fuel” from to pursue your purpose and your passion?

I draw a lot of my inspiration from my parents.


They are two of the hardest working people I know.


My mom in particular. I have never seen anyone give anything more to their passion than her. She works tirelessly on trying to do the most for her work all while keeping family on her mind, remembering little details, giving a phone call right when you need it the most, or making sure that you have the most amazing meal at the end of your day while she is still in the midst of hers.


What also fuels me is grit. I know that I have wanted to strive to extract the very best out of myself since grade 11 in terms of football.


It has not always been easy, however day after day all of the little things that you do start to add up.


You start to look at where you were a month a go, a year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago and start to go ‘holy smokes I have come so far’.


Then when you turn to look at the future you are thankful for how far you have yet to go.


Summary - Key Takeaways:

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