August 29th, 2012

planet

running track and being yourself

So I've been in some career development training this week, something everybody takes, not like I'm in trouble or anything, but it's gotten me thinking about my recent attempts to be nicer in meetings. A little less direct, a little more diplomatic. It's been an interesting time, mostly because my blunt and often sarcastic nature of talking to people is a reason that a lot of folks like me. I make people laugh, I make for a good story. And I always definitely get my point across... often I get everyone else's point across too. And they likes that!

Well, except maybe not everyone likes that, hence my recent attempts to change it up a bit and be nicer and calmer, based on some examples I've seen and other people I admire, I just think it'd be good for me.

It reminded me of a lesson from my track & field days, actually. I've always said that I learned a lot from sports that had nothing to do with the actual sport itself, I mean sure I know a lot about the technical aspects of jumping over a bar but there's so much more.

We had good 400 meter runner. He always picked a good fast pace, and responsibly kept it up the whole time, and usually placed well. He would run each 100 meter segment almost the same pace. In the beginning he'd sometimes fall behind, but he'd catch a lot of people by the end.

One day I heard our coach say "You're doing great, but just once, just once, I want to see what would happen if you went out like those stupid freshman who can't conserve energy. Just burn up the first half like you don't know any better. Try being one of those runners and see what it gets you, maybe you'll lose, but I'll know you can do it and we'll have this out of the way, alright?"

I know that as an engineer I have a tendency to say "This is who I am, I cannot change, this is the cloth I'm made of." But if I wanted to be someone else, could I? Just to try it on, prove I could do it? That's all it is sometimes... you don't have to change your whole self, just demonstrate some versatility. It's an experiment.