I no longer trod down the hill at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York to attend soccer practice in the afternoons. Instead, I find myself walking down the carpet between my cubicle and the kitchen for yet another cup of coffee. My glory days of sports are over, but the personal growth I gained through these experiences are sustainable practices I use every day in my professional career. Sure, there are some big changes: my office used to be called Beyer Small Class of ’76 Field, now it’s just a cubicle across from Abby from IT, Patriot League play-off matches are replaced with Q1 Annual Kick-off Events, and my weekly Friday bandwidth meetings are not quite the same as a Friday night under the lights against a huge rival like Syracuse. Regardless of my environment, the skills stick with me. It took an athletic career for me to learn these five skills, but you do not need to be an athlete to implement them in your own professional life:
Adopt a Growth Mindset:
A growth mindset is more than just believing that you are capable of anything. A growth mindset requires the discipline to hone basic skills and then adapt and develop them further. Constantly work on foundational skills and you will have a vast toolbox to draw from in any situation. Just remember to be patient with yourself.
Find Comfort in Discomfort:
Stepping out of our comfort zones is an important component of growth. Doing things that we have never done before forces us to perceive events in new light and not only builds our skillsets, but also stimulates our creativity and problem-solving abilities.
Cultivate a Positive Attitude:
Positive attitudes must be developed. It takes self-awareness and mental effort to build this as a habit. It is also important to ask, what truly is a positive attitude? It is more than just looking at the world through rose colored glasses. It must also encompass a sense of realism. We can dream big and hope for the best, but still set realistic goals and avoid the reactivity that comes with wishful thinking.
Learn from Mistakes:
This seems simple but can be difficult in practice. To learn from mistakes, we must first acknowledge that we made them. Take time to recognize what went wrong and understand how changes can be made in the future.
Forget your Mistakes Quickly:
Let me start with this disclaimer: This does not mean just ignore your missteps. Rather, go through the process of acknowledging them, and allow yourself to move on quickly. Being disappointed and frustrated is completely normal, but do not allow yourself to ruminate in how things went awry. Take the lesson and do not let it deter you.
Being a serious athlete allowed me to start cultivating these skills early on in my life, but I try to keep learning ways to improve every day. No matter what background you have, there’s a very good chance that you have developed skills that can help you in a professional setting. Learning from your experiences and adapting them to fit where you are in your life is a great way to move forward and be successful.