I just started reading the book Ice to Eskimos and at the start of chapter 6 the author identifies ground rule #6 “create big...
I’m a rec athlete. I do rec workouts. I once pulled a muscle shagging soccer balls during a halftime contest when I worked gamedays for the Chicago Fire. When I first started working at Northwestern I planned my workouts when I was least likely to run in to current or former student-athletes, including staff members and coaches.
One day, I was minding my own business running the track inside the basketball arena when someone didn’t show up for Noon Hoops. These former college and pro athletes shouted up to me to come down and play. I had never played a game of basketball in my life. I won my grade school free throw contest shooting granny style. None of these facts were able to get me out of playing Noon Hoops. They shouted back, “We just need a body.” So I sucked it up and went down to play. My plan was to play defense and never shoot. I had a blast. And I learned a lot. That’s when I realized that I shouldn’t be hiding from these athletes, I should be seeking them out so I could get better. And that’s what I did.
When I started working at Old Hat, these regular folks were running marathons like it was nothing so I started training for a half marathon last year, which I completed with Zac (and Megan who works at Texas A&M Corpus Christi) in Nashville. These avid runners convinced me it was possible.
The last few weeks, I’ve been working out with with my friend, Katie, who played softball at Southern Illinois. When we met in Norman last year, we realized I played the music for the last collegiate game of her career when Northwestern hosted the NCAA regional a few years ago. The last three weeks, we’ve been running to Oklahoma’s Football stadium to run the stairs. In between stair sets, Katie does sit ups or push ups while I stand there catching my breath. She makes me work harder. I will always be a level behind her, but I wouldn’t even be attempting that level without her.
Old Hat also has a couple of former student-athletes, including Dustin, a former pole vaulter at K-State. I learned a lot from Dustin when I worked out with him last year because he explains why we were doing each exercise. Last week I asked him to run Katie and I through one of his college track workouts, which we did last night. After the running, I asked Dustin for some ab work. Katie and Dustin were doing real situps while I looked around for someone to hold my feet!
To sum up the different performance levels going on last night, this is Dustin doing a backbend excercise. Seriously, the dude is on his tip toes!
After the workout, Dustin said that he was surprised at how well he was still able to do that backbend since he’s out of practice and he credited the Krav Maga classes he started taking this year. He’s been getting worked in these classes because it’s all about training, which he has none of. But that’s why he’s doing it. Stepping out of his comfort zone to be around people who are going to make him better.
This is what I did professionally at Northwestern too. My first hire when I was promoted to Assistant AD was my former student worker, Beth. She is wicked smart. Some people are intimidated by that. They are afraid to look bad, but really, hiring Beth made me look good. She brought different skills to our team that made us all stronger. I’ve talked about this before that you don’t need a bunch of people who can do what you do. You need some people who bring something different to the table.
With social media jobs popping up all over the place, the playing field has been leveled with younger professionals having just as much experience in this area as their bosses. Sometimes more. Hire them. Learn from them. If you don’t surround yourself with people who are better than you, you’ll still be trying to figure out MySpace. Or shooting granny-style.
It’s even okay to hang out with people who are cooler than you when you go out. I meet lots of people when I go out with Katie. With the right team together, you’re all equally strong. Isn’t that right, Mr. Belding?