If you read my blogs regularly, by now you’ve probably figured out that I draw a lot of my content from my own personal life. I reflect on experiences that I have had and try to draw life lessons out of them. What can I learn from my experience and how can I apply that lesson to other areas of my life? Following that theme, this post is going to discuss a lesson I learned in high school at age 18 and how I am applying that knowledge to my current job at age 31.
The lesson I learned came during my senior year in High School. I attended Loyola Blakefield in Towson, MD (Roll Dons Roll!). For most of my time at Loyola I played on the football team. However, during my senior year a young Jesuit priest in training who played Rugby in college decided to try to form a club team at Loyola. I had a brother-in-law who played Rugby at Mount St. Mary’s University and I knew I wanted to play Rugby at the Mount too, so I tried out for the team. This was my first introduction to rugby and I, like everyone who tried out, didn’t have a strong grasp on the game. We were a rag tag group of guys who wanted to try something new. No other High Schools in the area had a rugby team back then, so we found ourselves having to travel down to DC a lot to find matches. During our first match I still didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect, much less any idea of what a good play looked like. I was the captain of the team and thought that I was expected to know everything about the game. That scared me, because all that I really knew was that if we moved the ball in one direction it was good and if we moved it in another direction it was bad. Anyone in a different color jersey holding the ball was going to get tackled. I knew what the boundaries were, I knew how the pitch was lined, and I knew how I could and could not interact with other players. The life lesson came a few minutes into that first match. I was running around like crazy, not really sure if we were playing well or not. Everything seemed to be moving so fast and I was trying to make sense of it all. At one point one of our guys recovered the ball from the other team and kicked it down field…and the crowd erupted!! At that moment the game slowed down a little for me. As we continued to play we fed off of the energy of the crowd- when they cheered we knew to keep doing whatever we were doing. And when they let out a boo or a groan we knew we needed to stop doing whatever we were doing. We knew just enough about the game to lean forward and we let the feedback of our fans guide us. We ended up winning that first game too!
Fast forward 14 years and here I am finally applying that lesson. The lesson popped in my head this morning during a conference call between me, my boss and our Director. Don’t worry, it was a good call. Back in October of last year I wrote a piece on how it was important to always lean forward and not become complacent in our careers. I mentioned that my career growth areas of interest were Staffing Strategy, Forecasting, Operations and Leadership. Eerily enough a few months after I wrote that piece I accepted a new role within the same company as a Staffing Operations Lead in our Staffing Strategy and Operations group.
The call this morning was a monthly call we have set up to discus our progress and growth of our brand new Staffing Strategy and Operations team. Most of us are in new roles, even though we’ve all been with the company for a long time in one role or another. We came together and formed this team at the beginning of the year. Our Director mentioned during the call that it’s always hard when you start a new task or join a new group to get the lay of the land up front- and that a lot of times trial and error are the best teachers. She is also new to our sector and was discussing some of her challenges with expectations and how to measure success. She has received a lot of positive feedback about our team but was still mapping things out. As she spoke I found myself thinking back to that Rugby game all those years ago. I mentioned to her that when you start a new role or join a new group, it’s kind of like playing a new sport for the first time. You have to listen to the crowd a little to get your bearings and set your compass for success. Listening to that feedback will allow you to identify areas for improvement as well as areas that you excel in.
Seeking out feedback is how we grow professionally and learn how to better perform in our roles. We can’t be afraid to take on a new role or join a new team due to the unknown. Just like playing a new sport for the first time, as long as you know the boundaries of the job and the direction you need to head in, the feedback will guide you. You just have to be sure to listen to those cheers and learn from them!
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