At some point in life, we will all have to face change. It is guaranteed. It can involve change in the workplace or in our personal life. The best leaders, employees, relationships and, teams are a product of overcoming change (and the shock/pain that change brings).
I personally experienced change when I decided to move from Rome to Dublin and then NY to pursue my master’s. When I made the decision to move, I literally started a brand-new chapter of life and acted proactively to find my professional purpose and live my dreams. I moved there alone so I had to build a new circle of friends, get used to new cultures and habits, and most importantly, adjust to new educational systems. It was a challenging experience that shaped my personality and ways of decoding and dealing with things. Moreover, it allowed me to gain confidence and navigate life change with positivity. I learned that the best way to navigate changes is to create new versions of ourselves and build news identities that allow us to overcome what we may be dealing with.
Although change is a constant in our lives, all change isn’t created equal. When our identities are challenged, how do we navigate these circumstances? How do we find purpose when life and events force you to change?
I recently met David Kagulu-Kalema, CEO and Founder of the Coin Flyp, a former college basketball player whose stories helped answer these questions. David started the first media site for athletes that exclusively highlights life after sports. The Coin Flyp publishes first-person stories and interviews from former athletes who talk about their transition from college sports and how they reshaped their identity to find purpose in the workplace.
“Athletes can teach us how to deal with uncertainty and find direction”David Kagulu-Kalema, CEO at the Coin Flyp
“Athletes can teach us how to deal with uncertainty and find direction,” says David, “they are a demographic that MUST constantly rethink and reshape their identity because the majority of athletes that compete at college level and beyond will not make a career out of sports. Upon leaving sports, athletes have to rely on the traits that made them successful in sports to create a version of themselves that are assets in the workplace.”
“ […] because, athletes that have identified themselves as athletes for their entire lives, they are challenged to break that mental image, create new habits and establish new ways of thinking to start a new chapter of your life”.David Kagulu-Kalema, CEO at the Coin Flyp
Based on David’s work with the Coin Flyp and the stories athlete tell about their transition, here is what we can learn from athletes that went through one of the biggest changes in their career: life after sports.
“When athletes leave sports, it can often take a few years and different jobs to be firmly rooted in who they’ll identify as next,” […] “It’s almost like learning a new sport all over again.”David Kagulu-Kalema, CEO at the Coin Flyp
What we can learn from athletes:
Finding purpose has no script. It’s important to have a long-term view instead of looking for instant gratification.
Moving in the right direction means we’re being challenged and the best way to do that, especially if you’re navigating change, is to let your environment help refine where you want to go.
“In sports and in life, we’re trained to project the strongest and best version of ourselves. This is a shame because failure is a universal part of the human experience and shouldn’t be a dirty word.”Peter Prowitt, former Stanford Basketball player
If you haven’t experienced any sort of transition, you could say you’re lucky, but you’re missing out on the opportunity to create a better version of yourself. It could be switching careers, moving to a new city as I did, enduring the growing pains of developing a new skill, recovering from a breakup or losing key people in your lives. No matter the situation, change forces us to address who we want to be, how we move forward, and how we’ll develop the right identities to thrive.
The answers to these challenges are different for everybody and never apparent right away. The best we can do is understand that change is a journey that requires the right support system and the right mindset to continue trying when things do not work out. This is what athletes learn through sports and we can use it as a template for addressing changes in our lives. “It is innate for them to fail often, rely on community, and compete to keep fighting until they find something that works” concludes David.
“It is innate for athletes to fail often, rely on community, and compete to keep fighting until they find something that works”David Kagulu-Kalema, CEO at the Coin Flyp
“To learn more about how athletes transition, subscribe to David’s weekly column where he covers the numbers, stats, and stories that define athletes’ lives after sports.”