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It’s An Inside Job: Olaniyi Sobomehin On How To Maximize Potential In Sport & Life

By December 2, 2015May 23rd, 20197 Comments

“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision.”

Muhammad Ali

We tend to assume the successful are simply gifted. Or perhaps just lucky — at the right place at the right time.

Olaniyi Sobomehin is not one of those people.

But he does have one thing most lack: vision and self-belief.

A middle child with a life long dream to play in the NFL, Niyi lacked the natural gifts required to even earn a college football scholarship. Friends and family repeated the refrain: be realistic. Niyi ignored the advice, invested in himself and walked on the Oregon State program with little to no chance of seeing game time.

But sheer determination, exceptional mental toughness, and an unparalleled ability to out work everyone on the field turned this no name walk on into a running back for The New Orleans Saints, where he finally realized his childhood dream playing alongside NFL greats like Drew Brees.

A voracious reader able to translate wisdom into actionable practices, Niyi understood that the tools he relied upon for athletic success would apply equally to life after football. So upon retirement he turned his professional focus to I’m Not Youa platform to help young athletes develop the habits, strategies, systems and techniques required to maximize potential in sport and life.

Niyi’s approach has little to do with physical training. It’s about overcoming mental limitations. It’s about mindset. Because the relationship one has with one’s self is what ultimately dictates outcomes.

In other words, it’s an inside job.

Today we talk about the strategies Niyi distilled from playing at the highest level of sport and how these tools can be applied to unlock your own inner potential.

Specifics include:

  • how to overcome a talent deficit
  • developing confidence through facing fear
  • techniques for developing a mental edge
  • what holds most athletes (and people) back
  • the common habits of the most successful athletes
  • the benefits of affirmation & visualization techniques
  • morning routines to optimize your day
  • why he surveys his family weekly; and
  • why getting uncomfortable is the key to success

I love this guy’s passion. Niyi’s enthusiasm for life and devotion to service is infectious, buttressed by a perspective germane well beyond the boundaries of sport. So even if you’re not an athlete, this conversation delivers. Chocked with copious gems applicable to every facet of personal and professional development, it’s a natural bookend to echo and complement my preceding conversation with Jesse Itzler and the principles he learned living with Navy SEAL David Goggins.

Question: What Belief About Yourself Is Holding You Back?

I’d love to hear all about it in the comments section below.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this walk in Niyi’s cleats as much as I did.

Peace + Plants,


P.S. – Subsequent to our interview, Niyi launched the Sports Motivation Podcast and already has 10 episodes up. Apologies for not mentioning it in the introduction — check it out!

Listen & Subscribe on iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher

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Connect With Olaniyi: ImNotYou | Twitter | Podcast

As free gift to you, Olaniyi is graciously sharing a few of the tools he devised for himself and his clients you can download HERE or individually below:

Background, Context & Reference:

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

Production & sound design by me. Transition song Inside City by Julie Piatt accompanied by Tyler & Trapper Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.

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  • Tommy F says:

    Great Podcast!
    Goal Setting vs Mastery.. I think these two must be balanced against each other, to cultivate success. Mastery without Goal Setting tends to be a bit aimless. And, Goal setting without Mastery can result in over-striving towards worthless ambitions. I also find that keeping goals “loose” is key. If we tighten them up with our intentions, we leave no space for the flexibility required, as we grow, adapt and change over time. And with Mastery, it’s a lengthy practice requiring great surrender and patience through the many layers of conditioned being. Neither Goal Setting or Mastery is a perfect science. The successful blend of both is unique to each practitioner.

    I really like the practices engaged by Olaniyi. He’s focused and holds himself accountable to-himself and those in his circle of trust. He’s also graciously of service to youth looking for mentors to help them traverse the difficult pathways which he himself has journeyed. Beautiful. I also think the ‘Emotional Gameplan’ will be a real success. No better indicator for young or old, than emotions, to identify where we’re getting stuck with our thinking and resulting outer manifestations of our life.

    Printed out “The Blueprint”. I’m going to give this a try, within my morning practice.. and adding on the nightly recap. Thanks Olaniyi for sharing this! I could see this being something I share and activate with my kids too. And speaking of the kids.. I just printed off three copies of the ‘Survey’, to get some objective feedback of how I’m doing with those I love the most (wife and kids) 🙂


  • Niyi Sobo says:

    Salute Tommy! I appreciate the feedback, and your thoughtful insight.

    I am glad you are taking action and using those tools! Let me know how it goes, and if I can help at all.([email protected]) Much love!


  • Maria Avery says:

    Very powerful interview.
    I have been listening to the podcast for a while and subscribed to audible several months back. I wanted to utilize my commute time to learning and improving myself. I was listening to the current podcast and the older one too. Then with audible that gave me the opportunity to listen to the books, I just didn’t have the time to read but wanted to. Everything builds on each other. I have noticed that once I decided to take action to improve myself, things have come my way in order for me do that. This podcast came at the right time. Even though I am not an avid athlete I am going to apply the things that were discussed. I see the need for me to plan out and set goals in my life that are more than one focus. The last three years I have had one goal. I have noticed that with achieving that goal several other things have fallen by the wayside. I need to refocus and find what I am really passionate about. This interview was just another great tool to help me. I am grateful for the material Olaniyi provided. I have downloaded those items and plan on working through the things he talked about.

    It is all about taking the action needed in order to change our lives and move us towards where we ultimately want to be. I am ready to do that.

  • JasonRH says:

    Awesome podcast from start to finish, sounds like a very inspiring and thoughtful guy. It’s interesting to hear about the people, books and other resources that inspired him and his approach. This reminded me of the podcasts with Jeff Spencer and Byron Davis.

    At first I kept thinking that he should work with people other than athletes since his tools can probably apply to many different arenas. But, the one thing that seems to make athletes a little distinct is that having clear goals and milestones seems to be an almost necessary part of the process – i.e. make the NFL, win a championship, run a marathon in under 3 hours, finish ultra man, etc. In my own life I have found that specific goals can often detract from the day to day process since they always hang above me and sometimes force me to lose touch of what I am feeling I need to do along the way. Instead, I make it my goal just to show up and have fun and try to have a more general vision of where I am headed so I can go with the flow a little more (last week I submitted an AMA question on this very topic, specifically because it seems that you and Julie are on opposite ends of the spectrum with this and I think it would be interesting to dig deeper on it).

  • elb says:

    Loooooved this interview so much! I’m a musician, but I always find the tools athletes use (regarding setting goals, performance anxiety, etc) much more applicable than more traditional “artistic” approaches. I’m so excited to try out the daily Blueprint, with a few tweaks to include my practice/performance goals as well as my workout goals. Thank you so much for these tools Olaniyi! 🙂

  • sasha says:

    I did learn new things here and really loved his enthusiasm. So yesterday I wrote what I planned to do today and have done almost most of the list and its not even 4pm yet.
    Thank you ( again) Rich Roll ( and JP) for this great content and I have to say this is the only podcast I have stuck with!

  • Robin says:

    Finally catching up on some episodes and this was a good one. I’m often inspired by you and your guests Rich but struggle with the implementation and action. This time will be different. I have the tools printed out and am ready to go. Thank you. Happy New Year to you all.

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