CARLSBAD — For many, pickleball is a way of life.
A hybrid of tennis, badminton and table tennis, pickleball offers friendships and camaraderie. And for Carlsbad resident Mike Branon, the sport is a metaphor for life. The 61-year-old Carlsbad resident recently published his book, “Pickleball & The Art of Living,” which touches on self-discovery, fulfillment and taking life head-on.
At first, Branon started writing a book about politics, religion and life, with only one paragraph about pickleball. Once he got the feedback, he pivoted and used pickleball as a metaphor for life and developing qualities to live one’s best life.
So, he did. The book was released on Jan. 4. and it made an impact on some of the finest pickleball players in the country.
Jennifer Dawson, US Open Pickleball Triple Crown Winner, wrote a review of the book on Amazon: “…Successful entrepreneur, world traveler, and Pickleball enthusiast, Mike Branon, shares the secrets of how to infuse your days with passion and purpose on and off the court. From sports psychology to relationships to spirituality, Mike digs into the good stuff. Irreverent and light-hearted, this book takes you on a journey that lifts you up and makes you think.”
According to Branon’s website, the book helps to “develop powerful habits and master techniques that improve performance in any endeavor; overcome obstacles that stand in the way of living and playing your best; cultivate the mindset that unlocks your enjoyment of everyday life and fills you with a sense of gratitude and accomplishment; connect deeply with the people who really matter; balance fierce competition with the ability to lighten up and have a few laughs along the way and unleash your inner pickleball savant.”
But Branon’s personal life journey was much different when he started his career 40 years ago. He was focused and determined to succeed, but like most success stories, there were costs.
“I had been chasing the dollar and so wrapped up in business,” Branon recalled.
Branon started his own independent construction company at 34, but he was divorced soon after launching the business. Still, he forged ahead and by age 40, he was able to sell the business and retire so he could focus on spending time with his kids.
The ability to sell was due to several factors, and one of the biggest reasons is he was tired of so many aspects of life in his pursuit of financial security. Branon said he could always go back to work, but only had one chance to be a dad.
“I got into the construction industry by chance,” he said. “I started my own business … and did better than I ever thought I could. When I turned 40, my kids were 10 and 12, I had been working really hard and I thought I will always have a chance to work but not with the dad thing.”
But when the day came to retire, it allowed him to channel his energy into a more positive mindset and way of living, along with being more spiritual. Branon said he’s always been competitive, playing basketball into his mid-50s, then after injuries, found golf and tennis.
Soon thereafter, he found pickleball and its community, which welcomes all with open arms, he said. His spirituality grew and his life became more fulfilling, so he ran with it.
“Pickleball is my platform,” Branon said. “I talk about any passion for life … is an opportunity to live your passion, expand your horizons, continue to learn and make connections. Anything you do can be a launch point to self-discovery and fulfillment.”