Creatives & Changemakers

Personal durability, part 2: Martial artist William Seth-Wenzel talks about why you should dare to ask for help

Caroline Wendt
June 26, 2020

What can entrepreneurs learn from professional athletes when it comes to durability? As it turns out, a lot, when the Swedish final of the Creative Business Cup opened with a panel discussion about personal durability. The entrepreneurs were able to learn several successful factors that are important even for startup businesses. William Seth-Wenzel, Martial Artist of the Year in 2019 and world champion in jujutsu, spoke about, among other things, during to put himself first and to ask for help when it is needed!

Athletes must balance short- and long-term plans and it is important for them to feel good and be resilient in order for them to achieve consistent results. Even if you do something that you really love, you may sometimes need to take a break or talk with someone that can offer new points of attack to the challenges you face.

William Seth-Wenzel is a martial artist with both World and European Championship gold in jujutsu. In 2019 he was named the Champion of the Year and Martial Artist of the Year at Kampsportgalan. William is also a student at KTH.

William Seth-Wenzel – what drives you to persevere with sports?

– Mainly, it is because I love the sport and get something out of it. As long as I feel that I am developing and have targets to fight for, I will continue. When it becomes more draining than fun and rewarding, then one quits – or should quit. You can continue to fight if you see there is a future beyond that is within reach, or else it will not work in the long run. I think many business owners can feel that type of stress and maybe let it get too much.

Mental health is a topic that has been widely discussed within sports in recent years. You have won European and World Championships but have also seen a sports psychologist – explain why?

– To start with I did not end up there voluntarily. It was the coach that gave me the opportunity to talk with someone because I was going through a period where I was less happy than usual. My first thought was “as an athlete I shouldn’t need this, I compete as a weapon”. In retrospect I noticed how much it helped and that the psychologist made me think differently. He offered a solution that only he could give because he was outside of my usual world. The solution was focused on me and the more I saw the psychologist, the better my results became. My advice is to have the courage to seek help in time and take the opportunity to work more proactively.

A high level of discipline is required by elite athletes and many are forced to choose between friends and training. What are your thoughts?

– Elite athletes sacrifice many things, but I don't want to sacrifice things that I think are important. I need a life as an athlete and a life outside of it. If I need to give up something that is important, I will reprioritize. Perhaps I can shorten one of my sessions by half an hour. You need to make sure that the right things are sacrificed, or else you may not enjoy it. Prior to the last World Championships, I was between a rock and a hard place. I was studying full-time at KTH, wanted to spend time with friends, had a part-time job and was unsure whether I would be able to push it all aside. I did it my way and added all the things in life I find important and that I want to keep. I trained less but in a more effective way and because I had time for other things, I felt happy.

How can you create a sustainable personal life as an entrepreneur?

– Dare to be selfish! Focus on yourself first, then help others and be an inclusive person.

Part 3 will be about Rob Haans, who explains the importance of putting people in focus and the significance of the team for both athletes and entrepreneurs. Rob Haans has his own experience as a triple world champion in jujutsu and as the team captain for the Swedish jujutsu national team.

The Creative Business Cup is an international competition, but the 2020 final that was due to be held in Copenhagen has since been cancelled. The Swedish final was held in March 2020 with xPlot as a form of collaboration with Lund Municipality and Future by Lund. Ahead of the Swedish final of the Creative Business Cup, four representatives with experience from elite sports helped to inspire the entrepreneurs with the way they approach and think of performance. In the panel were William Seth-Wenzel, World and European Champion in jujutsu and student at KTH; Susanne Gunnarsson, with a total of 17 World Championship or Olympic medals in canoeing and now working as a coach, lecturer and treatment assistant; and Rob Haans, with several individual World Championship medals and now the captain of the Swedish Jujutsu Federation. Joining via video link was Klara Svensson, former professional boxer with several World Championship titles and now a self-employed business owner. The debate was led by Jakob Wikenstål with both an academic degree in sports management and experience as an entrepreneur through the job platform Sportidealisten.

The discussion came to be about what it is like to deliver every day to maintain forward momentum and stick to your big goals and dreams. It was also about how to work for the team to function, but also daring to be selfish and clear when asking for help to get what you really need.

Part 1: Susanne Gunnarsson – mental strength

Part 2: Personal durability, Part 3: Rob Haans “Whoever builds a strong team has the greatest chance to succeed”

Part 4: Klara Svensson: “It is both demanding and wonderful to be solely responsible”

Translation: Ben Dohrmann


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