Play Hard, Work Hard: Using Lessons from the Court at Work

You'd be surprised to see how far you can get when you look at challenges through a more familiar lens!

Hi again, everyone! Yesterday was my last day at AKF, and since I had a very light day, I had plenty of time to reflect on my experience as a Marketing and Business Development intern. I gained and practiced skills, but I also learned a couple memorable lessons from the people around me.

“I like to win. So, I work with people that know how to win.”

On my sixth week at the engineering firm, I was introduced to another woman working in the department. Jill mentioned how every opportunity that pops into her inbox is another chance to get a win for herself and the company. This got me thinking about how I approach my own endeavors.

As a lifelong athlete, I’ve always been wildly competitive. When I really get into something, I’m 100% invested. And I expect the same level of commitment from my teammates.

Over the years, certain teams have been more frustrating than others. But I always figured out how to still get a “W.” I’ve spent a lot of energy just trying to get my teammates pumped up and focused on the game. That being said, it’s easy to lose interest when the game isn’t going your way.

When it comes to work, I sometimes find myself lacking the motivation that I try so hard to maintain on the court. Certain projects really test me, and my ability to look critically at what I create and to take criticism.

Jill’s thoughts reminded me that I can apply my competitive spirit to my career, as well. I know how to pull people into a game, so what’s stopping me from doing the same off the court?

I figured out that if I approach assignments how I approach matches, I can still have fun (and succeed) when writing becomes work. And I might even be able to draw out the same level of excitement from the people I work with.

“I expect you to have questions!”

There was one particular project that I worked on at AKF that was relatively new for the whole firm. I received an email from my boss/mentor, Jenn, detailing a “Qualifications Package” for me to create. This was a new way to show potential clients all of the cool stuff that the firm has designed and built. Because of the nature of this assignment – it was a lot of work, with only one example to use for reference – Jenn let me know that she didn’t expect it to go off without a hitch.

Once again, I’m bringing this back to my volleyball and advertising careers.

On teams that didn’t need as much of a push, I started asking my coaches loads of questions. This gave me the chance to see my mistakes as learning opportunities, instead of just points for the other team.

Reading this in Jenn’s email was comforting (letting me know that it’s okay to not understand right away), but also reminded me that I can do the same with the copy I write.

In class, we spend time writing and rewriting and then getting feedback and rewriting again. Sometimes, I struggle with making suggested changes because of how invested I am in the work.

But, making this connection between these two parts of my life allowed me to see feedback in a new way. It’s just another way to become a better writer. There’s no harm in entertaining the criticism I receive because there are so many ideas that don’t even come to me.

I’m going into my senior year – my last year as a student and an athlete. In a way, my summer internship taught me how to be a great player when it comes to my work. I’ve always been pretty confident and carefree on the court, so when I no longer have that, I’m certain that it will carry over into my professional career.

I encourage you all to look into your hobbies and passions, in search of lessons you can apply to your work! It seems obvious now, but I never would’ve guessed that these two parts of my life could be so interconnected. You’d be surprised to see how far you can get when you look at challenges through a more familiar lens!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *