In 2012 I was a sophomore in college, I didn’t have much direction on what career path I wanted to take. I only knew a few things for sure. I knew how to pick a seat in the back of a classroom to ensure optimal nap length during lectures, and I knew that if I went to the bathroom with fifteen minutes left in class, and took my book-bag, I didn’t have to return and would not be docked for attendance. I spent more time in college coming up with elaborate plans on how to take shortcuts that, they ended up not being shortcuts at all. But hey, I did it my way right? That has to count for something.
When I was in school, at any level, I always had issues with following directions. It’s not that I didn’t want to follow directions or was lazy, I just thought that I could always find a better way. Again, these examples best come to light at the college level, since we had a little bit more freedom. Every paper that I wrote at the start of each semester, I always had the same plan. I completed the paper at what I had anticipated to be a C grade. Here is what I mean, I put the amount of effort into the paper that I had thought would, at the very least, earn me a C grade. If I got a C on the paper (like I had predicted) then I knew I had to apply more effort going forward. If my C effort earned me an A with a certain professor, I knew that I could continue that same effort throughout the school year and still get an A in the class. This left with me extra time that I could focus on internships, extracurriculars, etc. I still got an A, but will less effort than what was needed, leaving me more time to be productive elsewhere.
“I thought I could always find a better way.”
I did this because nothing really grabbed my interest enough for me to fall in love with the process, I only cared about the end result. When I got my first internship in professional baseball, to my surprise (sarcasm) it didn’t appear that they needed me to do any calculus or art history. My sales classes seemed like a waste of time compared to what the team had me doing – actually making sales calls. I learned so much more in my first season than I ever had in class for two reasons. One, you cannot replicate real life scenarios. There are an infinite number of responses that clients will give you, it’s virtually impossible to replicate them by role playing or sitting through a lecture. Two, I had finally found my passion. Yes, there is something very rewarding about the end result, whether it’s getting a big contract signed or finishing the season with a high attendance number, it proves that your hard work is paying off.
“I learned so much more in my first season than I ever did in class.”
More importantly, win or lose, succeed or fail, the process is more valuable than the end result. The lessons I have learned along the way, season after season, are what will prepare me to get to the next level, and not just get there, but succeed once I do. When you are in college, you study as hard as you can, you cram all night, you ace the test, and you feel great. Three months later not only would you not ace that exact same test, but you would probably fail with flying colors. In sports, when I succeed at something, I remember exactly how, and I continue to perfect that process so that the next time I have a “test” it goes even better than the one before.