I had a discussion with a coworker about management, and how sometimes it was taking your knocks and having experience, rather than just sheer talent, to make someone succeed. It got me thinking, first about work lessons I’ve learned, but also about my obsessive hobby of racing and just life in general. Figured it couldn’t hurt both as perhaps words of wisdom to others, or to come back to in 5 years and laugh about how silly I was. Random quips, quotes, and observations ahead.
On the construction outside our window at work:
-There is only one diggy thing, and one pushy thing. (Apparently that’s the technical term that came out of my mouth for bulldozer and crane).
Ok, seriously, onto the actual non herp-de-derp brain drippings…
-You will wax and wane. At your peak, you will wonder how this mileage/speed/training was ever hard. You will be standing at the top of that mountain, looking down, and feel the glorious feeling of being able to conquer all. After rest and recovery, you’ll look at that daunting task of getting back to where you were as if you’re at the bottom of the mountain, looking up. You’ll wonder how you climbed that mountain, and wonder if you have it in you again. Always know that you have it in you if you put in the effort.
-Going from a front 1/3 of the pack to back of the pack racer in a different sport is a humbling but awesome experience. It makes you remember that first time you ran a 5k, and were just so thrilled to finish, and found that fire in your belly saying “if I can finish, next time I can do better…”
-Getting beat as a 32 year old by a 67 year old friend is also humbling but awesome. At first, it’s “wtf, HE beat me”, but then realizing that if you’re good to your body, you have 30+ good years of racing in you…. epic. Until I met those folks, I had a ridiculous misconception that I better squeeze my racing into the next few years because it’s downhill from here… SO not true.
-Setting out a training plan and following it to race day is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Having the knowledge that you are SO ready is a great confidence booster, no matter what the race outcome. On the flipside, having a race where you just wing it and end up with a PR – awesome as well. Sometimes rolling the dice pays off.
-Dream big. If you can follow a training plan, the adrenaline and crowds will pull you through race day. I went from 10k to a half in 3 months. I spent about 6 months building from never swimming or biking to an olympic tri. You build the miles, and then kiss the sky hoping you can pull it all together on race day.
-There is nothing wrong with a good cry after a bad race. Just make sure it’s accompanied by a plan to go forward and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Also, make sure it’s actually a bad race (ahem, GG 5k where I placed in the top 20% and my shitty time was because it was a long and hilly course) before you get all emo.
-All training sessions teach you something, no matter how shitty, mediocre, or awesome they are. Listen carefully and you’ll progress faster.
-Keeping a training log is invaluable. Being able to have a record of what worked (and probably more importantly what DIDN’T work) is key to be able to replicate.
-Slow and easy miles should be for a reason (read: not the majority of your training), but they have value at times. To improve, you need at least one butt kicking, deity seeing, religion inducing training session per week at each discipline.
-Take stepback weeks/months. You can’t be a rockstar 52 weeks of the year. Find your base you’re unwilling to go below (for me, I need to be able to bust out a 10k, ride 15 miles, and swim a mile at any time – not together) and don’t be afraid to spend some time there to recover in off season.
-Take a moment at how AWESOME you are in comparison to 99% of the world. No matter how you placed in your last race, you got out there. Which is more than most fuckers can say.
-You have to pay your dues to understand sometimes. If you have a great manager that makes a questionable decision once in a while, give them the benefit of the doubt. Management has so much nuance in navigating egos and politics and compromise that you can’t please everyone all the time. However, you can attempt to do what’s right for your team and your product, and sometimes that means pissing people off.
-A manager doesn’t have to explain their decisions t0 anyone below them. However, a good manager will explain their decisions to their staff as often as they can, and rely on “because I said so” only in the most direst of times.
-You can rule with love or fear. Both are fully valid management styles, and just depends on the individual. As long as the end goal of respect is met, it works.
-You should always be a filter/translator between your boss and your employees. Sometimes people at the end of both spectrum say one thing and mean another. It is your job to be fluent in both languages and communicate what’s needed.
-Taking responsibility for mistakes is something you have to suck up and do. Both ways – to your employees and to your bosses. A simple, “I’m sorry, I fucked up, and this is how we’re going to fix it” is a good way to start the goodwill flowing back your way.
-Never throw someone under the bus unless it’s the last option and/or they REALLY deserve it. I’ve seen careers ruined and I’ve ruined careers because of it. The better line is as above. “We fucked up, and this is how we’re going to fix it” rather than “THEY fucked up and they suck”.
-Never stop trying to make things better. Even if your pitches continue to fall on deaf ears, it’s a great learning experience. Always continue to refine the process. Never say “eh, it’s good enough”.
-When something falls apart, nurse your wounds, drink heavily, curse the heavens, and then analyze. What went wrong? What can we do to fix it? Try to never make the same mistake twice.
-The cheapest morale builder is a good solid “Thank you for your hard work”. Call out what is awesome publicly. Deal with what is not awesome privately or anonymously.
-Give people the benefit of the doubt as much as you can while keeping your project moving. Don’t nitpick. Realize that everyone has their own work style. As long as they make their deadlines, and upper management is off your back, it’s fine.
-Defend your team to upper management if needed. They may be too removed from the process to realize that the dude who is always up and walking around is 3 days ahead of schedule, he just needs that time to clear his head. Don’t just be a puppet for the owners/execs. You have the unique insight into both venues, use it. Likely, you’ll be respected for it by both.
-Take some time to enjoy and appreciate your product. If you don’t believe in it, then you’re doing something wrong.
-Abuse your power just a little every once in a while. Send someone out to grab your lunch when you don’t feel like it. Take a 30 minute break to grab tea. Lounge in someone’s office and BS for 15 mins if you need a break. Spend some time talking shit with other managers. It’s the little things.
-Have confidence. If you’re making a successful product and have a fairly happy team, even if you have self doubt and insecurity, you’re doing it right.
-Waxing and waning. You’re going to have money, or you won’t. You’ll feel on top of the world, or you’ll feel low. Whatever it is, it will probably pass. Enjoy it while you have it, attempt to preserve it as long as you can, but shit happens. Life happens. Don’t spend your time pining for what you used to have, go out and get what you want.
-Save your fucking money. As soon as you can after you recover from being a broke ass college student, put away a nest egg that can keep you going for a few months if shit hits the fan.
-Take vacations. Leave home and explore. Turn off your phone, get away from email, tv, everything. I promise, no matter what you do, life can handle itself for a little while without you monitoring.
-Do stupid irresponsible shit sometimes. Sure, staying up until sunrise drinking might not be SMART, but it’s likely it will be an EVENT. You’ll probably learn something. Maybe that something is drinking until sunrise is DUMB, but likely not just that. I’ve found that sunrise is a very epiphany making experience.
-Let your arguments end with giggles about how dumb you are for arguing.
-Marry your best friend. If you enjoy the company of your friends more than your fiance, you’re doing it wrong.
-If you’re at a fancy dinner, order whatever the fuck you want and enjoy it. No guilt. You don’t get filet mignon or crab w/drawn butter every day.
-If you find that you’re not the person you want to be, change. It is just that simple. Give yourself time, forgiveness, leeway, patience, and the power of research, but figure out where you want to be and make a plan to get there. If you’re unhappy to the point where you’re contemplating giving up, do something drastic (perhaps, if you’re miserable where you live, up and move to a new town). If you are so miserable you have nothing to lose, try something that can have an awesome return.
-If you find something you have passion for, dig in and embody that passion. Even if it fades or doesn’t work out, you have experienced something beautiful and probably learned a lot.
-Be a good person. Try to keep karma on your side. If you try to do the good thing most of the time, you’ll find life is forgiving when bad happens to you. Even in those situations, if you are a genuinely good person, things will turn out alright.
-Don’t worry so much about what the world thinks of you. Be who you are. If you are truly happy with yourself, in your own skin, the people who matter will love you. Your quirks are probably endearing to them.
-Dance, sing, love, laugh, play, and never forget what it was like to be young. Lay in the grass, throw snowballs, make funny faces at people, make up words, and generally don’t let whimsy pass you by. Basically, when these things seem dumb to you, a little bit of your soul dies. Remember how to have silly, simple, uncomplicated fun.
…and there you have it. Totally random pearls of widsom from moi (just as random as my pictures). Please share with me in the comments what your life lesson to the world would be!