TO MY NEICE who has ended her season of volleyball and graduated high school, I congratulate you. From what I can tell, the year was a good one. Or rather, I hope you consider it a good year. I didn’t keep up with the season the way I should have, but the environment was way too severe for me. The complaints, the arguments, and the general conversation about how serious high school girl’s volleyball seemed absurd. No one has ever asked me about football season 1982. I’m asked if I enjoyed playing, and that’s about as far as it goes. But I don’t want to give you the idea that I don’t fully support playing sports. You learn a lot from it. This is what playing high school sports taught me: 1. How to work for someone you may not like. 2. How to work as a team player. 3. How to find enjoyment in adversity.
enjoyment: a feeling of pleasure caused by doing or experiencing something you like
We know people (see blog You're Not The Boss Of Me) who like to dictate, stomp feet, and yell. They don’t acknowledge you are hurt, tired, and at the end of your patience. They loom their position over you as a means to control you and justify their bad behavior as something that is good for you. Past successes mean nothing, and if the accolades are plentiful, the assumption is you should still be doing more. There are the sons, daughters; relations of some sort that, without merit, who will appear on the first string. You will find yourself judged not by your own excellence but rather your position in the group. How do you work for someone you may not like? You have goals. If working for bossy people allows you to attain your end, you become a great team player and make it work.
How do you become a team player? Realize you are only as strong as your weakest link, do what you can, and then move forward by releasing the rest. Note you can’t avoid the weak link, so help them. Remember you cannot blame people for being less talented or less smart, so be patient as well. You will also find that being a better player often inspires jealousy, even from your boss. Resentment is most often illustrated when those positioning themselves close to you belittle your efforts to better yourself or make fun of the efforts of those less talented. Working hard at being better will always give you influence over others. You won’t necessarily know it, but you will sense it when things get tight, don’t go your way, or you just lose. If you are not up, your team won’t be up. But if you laugh at the hard times, you will find the hard work not so difficult, the loud screaming not so resounding, and the drama not so dramatic. Enjoyment is contagious.
How do you find enjoyment? Discover the humor in life and laugh. Don’t take it too seriously. Whatever it is, it will eventually be over, and you’ll be on to the next thing, project, or game. I realize as I write this that my life has progressed from the achievements of high school to the achievements of college, work, and my personal life in general. Winning that game in high school is so small in comparison to, say, even the success of my move to California this winter. This game is super exciting, and yours at college is too. Remember the short-term goal in sports is to win the game. In life, it’s to end the day and consider it a win. Have fun.
To realize the value of all this, you must continue to learn. Your skill set should not be the same as when you started the season, nor the job you take be the same as when you leave it. Continuing to learn provides growth and maturing will lead to new opportunities. Consistently challenging yourself to be better is why it is so important to love what you do. Your evolution will be amazing, beautiful, exciting, all the things you want out of life, but only if your eyes are open to see, mind clear to experience and heart free to enjoy. And like high school sports, show that you love the hard work it takes striving to be the best no matter who’s the boss. JOE