How Sports Prepared Me For A Career
Our interests, our experiences and our opportunities easily shape our lives. They influence our reactions to daily events and how we conduct ourselves, including in our jobs.
For me, like many other Canadians, hockey has been a large part of my life. It provided me the opportunity to learn important values, meet great people, travel and perhaps most importantly, earn an education. While at university I often thought how hockey taught me valuable skills in time management, organization, prioritization and leadership. Being a naive undergraduate, I wasn’t aware of how these skills would be useful in the professional world, until I began my internship in Calgary. Now, I should mention that since about the age of eight I have been a goaltender in hockey. Although it is a team position, it is perhaps the most secluded position in all of sports. If you ever have a chance to meet a goalie you may know, we are a few feet from being normal.
Control What You Can
My defense has fallen down and now the opposition player is entering our zone, unchallenged on a breakaway. If the player comes in and scores, I can’t help that my teammate found perhaps the slipperiest spot on the ice (the blue line). All I can control is my movement, my reactions and my opportunity to stop the puck that will move from the player’s stick towards my head in less than a third of a second.
Similarly, in public relations, you can’t help if a story doesn’t get picked up, if a writer for some reason misinterprets your pitch or a client has a distorted view of the reality of what your company (or perhaps even the client’s company) is able to achieve. All you can control is the product that you create for your client to help them achieve their goals.
If You Don’t Love It, Get Out
The endless hours training in the gym, on the ice, studying video and mental preparation are all for the love of those moments of absolute perfection in a game. When the love of the game isn’t there, you’re either not in the right sport, or it is time to retire.
Now not everything in work is going to be moments of bliss like making that huge glove save. But if there isn’t that moment that places a smile on your face, that makes everything else worth it, you’re in the wrong career.
Have Your Outlet
Away from the rink, New York Rangers’ all-star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is a part time model and plays in a band with his friend and professional tennis player John McEnroe. In the offseason many hockey players enjoy rounds of golf to stay active, while enjoying down time.
As with athletes, it’s important that work and play have their areas in your life. Outside the office, make time to enjoy your hobbies and interests. It could be playing in sports, playing in a band, or simply enjoying a good walk with a loved one or pet. Having a place of serenity to escape the pressures and stress of the workplace is important. Enjoy the time you have away from the office.
This seems like it would be a no brainer, but is perhaps the most important. Hockey is a game where success is dependent on the team, and in most offices a team is working to achieve a common goal.
Unlike hockey however, in work you can be on more than one team at a time. Right now I’m part of the Post+Beam team, the Post+Beam media team, and the teams that involve each of the clients I’m working with. Even though at times I am still that isolated goalie sitting in front of my computer screen working away, I still work towards the common goal that we as a team have for our clients and the office.
Now I would like to take this a step further. The success of a team (in sports or in the office) is very much dependent on the fusion of its “players”. In sports, the team that wins a championship isn’t always the team with the most talent, but the team that has a family bond between them. These teams are successful because each player compliments and supports each other (in sports or in the office). Through my internship, my biggest take away has been finding an environment that I look forward to being apart of each day. When I was at Iowa State, what helped me through the sometimes slow and boring classes was knowing at the end of the day of classes I was able to go to the rink and be with my hockey family to either practice or go into the battle of a game. Starting an internship at Post and Beam was the same thing. Every morning waking up, I looked forward to going to an office where everyone got along, communicated well and took the time to have fun with each other. It has made work a privilege and not a chore. It is that type of environment that I will continue to emphasize as I continue with my career.