They pulled him aside before the volleyball game started. There was some pointing, nodding, laughing, and then he came back to his seat in the stands. We all looked at him inquisitively. “I’m going to be part of the entertainment between the second and third set,” he stated nonchalantly.
At halftime, we watched him confidently make his way down the bleachers to the middle of the gym. The announcer excitedly described the game. Nathan would be blindfolded, spun around and then a volleyball would be placed somewhere within the boundaries of the court. It was up to the audience to then direct him using “hot” and “cold” clues. Simple enough.
The second they finished spinning him, the crowd started yelling. Strategy kicked in as he dropped into a crouched position and began sweeping the air along the floor. He was nowhere near where he needed to be when he made a sudden turn in the correct direction. The crowd and announcer began yelling “hot” as we anticipated him winning. He was nearly on top of the ball when he took an unplanned swerve to the left.
As the announcer finished counting down, Nathan removed the blindfold to defeatedly find the ball three feet behind him. “It’s right behind ya man,” the announcer proclaimed condescendingly.
While still entertaining, when I rewatched the video later that night, it made me reminiscent of the beginning of my career.
Nathan knew his goal was the volleyball just as we start out knowing what we want when we start our first job. But, then we become blinded by the daily requirements that get our attention. Notes, difficult diagnoses, lack of knowledge, and tough days make us lose sight of dreams. We are spun around as we listen to what other people are doing and what other people think we should do.
The best part of the story with Nathan isn’t its comical anecdote (although I still laugh watching it), but rather that we were all able to laugh at his failure after the fact. During our career, we are all going to fail. We are going to have to put ourselves out there unsure whether or not we will be successful. The one thing that makes this vulnerability and unease tolerable, and even enjoyable, is the people that surround us during the process.
With my career, there has been a lot of trial and error, some negativity from others, and occasional frustration with the field in general. But, I wouldn’t change it. So, while my career is far from perfect, I have enjoyed the process and love the people that have been with me along the way. Regardless of if I locate the volleyball or run around aimlessly blindfolded, my professional relationships pick me up, laugh with me, and make sure I give it another try.
This need for camaraderie and community is the reason that Phil, Todd, and I started Professional Rebellion. We want to give growth-minded individuals a meeting place to share ideas, reach new levels, and be surrounded by others on the journey for excellence. Our professional journey is not meant to be forged alone.
It is time to take off the blindfold and see who is standing next to us and what our careers can be.