The Athlete in the Office
It's a word that people love to use on resumes and in interviews - for me, it's true. Since I was five, I've been a part of a team - baseball, basketball, track and field, and football. I didn't put on a set of pads until my senior year in high school, but football has proved to be one of the most physically rewarding and mentally-stimulating sports I've played.
I was a linebacker in college, and I've coached football teams for the past five years. Since graduating college and entering the workforce, I've learned that the skills I gained in playing football translate to the office. And I'm not talking Terry Tate-style skills.
KNOW THE GAME PLAN.
When you're a linebacker, you have to be one of the smartest players on the field - you're brawn and brains. First, you have to understand the game. As the captain of the defense, you're responsible for telling everyone the play. If someone doesn't know their alignment or assignment, you have to tell them. There are 11 guys on the field - that's 11 different positions you need to remember for every play. When you consider the number of possible plays in a game...it's a big responsibility.
Working in an office is similar to being on a team - there are multiple assignments, strategies, and positions. Our office huddles up every Monday morning to go over our "game plan" for the week - we can assess who needs to be where.
When you're on the field, in a peripheral-blocking helmet, you can only see what's directly in front of you. In football, when you see something, you shout it out. If a player is moving, you let your teammates know! It's the same inside the studio - we have to rely on those around you to communicate problems, solutions, or questions.
DON'T GET READY - STAY READY.
Even if I'm on the bench, I need to be prepared and ready for my number to be called. You can't be like "I need to warm up coach, I haven't played in awhile." In the office, this requires me to know the latest developments in our design software in addition to learning new BIM systems. Communicating on current projects with others. Just staying in the now of our workload to be ready to pitch in at a moment's notice.
BE A STUDENT OF THE GAME.
Whether it's football or architecture, I'm always learning. When I was a student assistant coach at FAMU, every morning the coaching department had an hour meeting to discuss what we were going to do for practice, who was injured, etc. We not only watched hours and hours of film of our opponents but also of ourselves. We were able to learn where we went wrong and what we needed to work on.
My mentor, whom I assisted in FAMU football, is a Clemson Hall of Famer, playing for the Steelers and in the Super Bowl. Every morning we met I would find him watching YouTube videos of football reels. This extremely smart and dedicated athlete showed me how important it was to continue learning no matter how far you've made it.
TRUST YOUR COACH.
Coaching let me know who I really was - at different times I was coaching children as young as 6 and adult men as old as 47. I had to learn to balance my personality and communicate in different ways. How do you get someone to respond when you have someone saying "you're not my dad!" or a man who is old enough to be your dad? Show them respect and get respect.
Bosses are like coaches - they put you in the best possible position to be successful. You have to have that confidence and trust to let them guide you. They are like your mentor too, talking about the profession. When a boss/coach talks about their experience you can ask yourself, what can I do differently? What can I do better? Everything is a learning experience.
ALWAYS HAVE FUN.
The love of the game doesn't have to end once you're off the field - you just change it to love of the career. Even though everything I do now is mental - the most physical thing I do these days is lift the water cooler bottles - I'm still on a team. Together we come up with silly, fun things that encourage us to be creative and strengthen our relationships. We also explore things separately that we can support each other through, whether it's music or photography or art. Everyone has a different spin on architecture, and that's what makes it interesting.