Punit Dhillon was nine when he almost drowned in a swimming pool. Twenty years later, he became a competitive swimmer and completed his first of several Ironman Triathlons. Punit lives by the philosophy of using adversity as fuel to exceed all expectations.

At 30, Punit was one of the youngest biotech CEOs in the life sciences industry, and just five years later, he became a NASDAQ CEO for a publicly traded biotech company. Punit’s pioneering tenacity is shared by other extreme athletes and high-achieving corporate professionals who understand that true achievement comes when we push our limits.

In Catapult, Punit gives readers an insider’s look at the lessons we learn by turning obstacles into opportunities. Taking readers through his twenty years of global business experience, Punit shares ten principles for a purpose-driven life and career, linking together the athletic strengths that will help us succeed in the business world. I recently caught up with Punit to learn more about what inspired him to write the book and his favorite idea he shares.

Published with permission from the author.

What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?

I was on a business trip in Toronto with a great set of peers who’ve been super supportive in many different endeavors that I’ve been involved with, and we all happened to be in Toronto at the same time traveling for different business. It was a nice reminder of how small the world is that we live in and how this group continues to inspire each other. So, while we were all at this hotel, we saw someone walking around who looked very much like Wayne Gretzky.

Now, we were mistaken. It was not Wayne Gretzky, but that didn’t stop us from approaching him and congratulating him on all his success. We had a good laugh about that afterwards over drinks. That got us talking about all the athletes who’ve inspired us in our lives, how we try to carry on that inspiration as part of our legacy, and what kind of role athletics had played for each of us. That conversation solidified for me: there’s something here in terms of marrying athletics and the business world. Being a competitive athlete myself, it was an easy connection to make. I could see how that had influenced my approach and philosophy in the business world.

What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?

I love the idea of creating your purpose statement. A few years back, I created my own purpose statement: To lead people and communities that pioneer an indelible impact on the world. I’m blessed to work in an area where I get to see a direct impact of my work and how it influences people’s lives. In the book, I walk the reader through creating their own purpose statement.

How does the effort you put into your work reach the people around you in profound ways? The only way I’ve found to be effective is looking beyond ourselves and working with others to do something truly transformative. We are only as strong as our communities. With other people by our side, it can really help accelerate that aspirational component that so many of us are really motivated by and help us push ourselves to that next frontier of performance.

Published with permission from the author.

What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?

As a competitive summer, I recognized that power of community early in my life. I was not the fastest swimmer and got into competitive swimming at a later age, so the group of lifeguards, instructors, peers, and parents of my peers who were around me were invaluable. That support network aided my development as a swimmer but also helped me build a set of values.

More recently, I think about my work with The Young Entrepreneur Leadership Launchpad, or YELL Canada. This is a youth program focused on entrepreneurship that aims to serve, connect, and inspire students as they enter the post-secondary phase of their lives.

The confidence that they build coming out of that program, it’s been very rewarding for me to see. We’ve probably had close to a thousand students go through the program over the past decade, and so many of them have been inspired to do some big, big things. So, that’s how I’m applying this idea: helping with an organization that fosters inspiration and gives young people a good framework—that of entrepreneurship—that they can apply throughout their life.