My competitive hockey career ended recently. At the same time it ended, my marketing career picked up. A few months ago, I realized these worlds aren’t all that different.
Athletes train at intense levels in their off-season. A football player might endure 2 or 3 physical demanding training sessions in one day during the off-season. If it’s a team sport, practice is mandatory and just about every day during the season. In college, hockey practice was every day from 4PM – 6PM for me. Here, you are improving on personal weaknesses or working with a teammate to improve on something. Game time is performance time. There is pressure to deliver but the time spent training and practicing help to minimize the pressure.
I was two months into my job when I had the thought that probably hits most graduates at some point in the first six months of their career: is this what I am doing the rest of my life?
Then I remembered what was asked of me as an athlete: train, practice, and perform at game time. Game time becomes a stressful environment with coaches, teammates and fans on you to deliver, but the preparation involved with practice and training as well as the eagerness to compete, fuels an athlete’s performance.
I’ve started to break my career up into training, practice and performance.
When I know an assignment is going to push my mental capacity for learning, I label it training. I am immediately aware of the intensity I may be getting myself into. For me, practice is attacking a weakness. Practice is different from training because a weakness implies that you are aware of how to do it; you just aren’t as good at it yet. Athletes work on weaknesses all the time, and it can certainly be done in one’s professional career. Game time or the performance is any time I need to go in front of team members or clients to explain a deliverable.
Looking at my career this way, I have had more fun day to day at work and maximized learning.