“When I start getting stressed, I go back to the triangle and make sure everything is balanced out…”
Due to NCAA regulations, all names have either been deleted or fictionalized to negate any possibility that this post is in any way endorsed by the people or entities about which it was inspired and written. This fictionalization does not change the power of the message I want to share with you, my readers.
As part of the annual Walk to School Day, students from the AB Combs Leadership Elementary school in Raleigh, North Carolina walked along with teachers, staff administration, parents, siblings, WoolEBull (the Durham Bulls mascot), the Struttin’ Wolf mascot, plus our own Al E. Gator.
The walk commenced in an assembly, where the remainder of the school joined in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater area to listen to the rocking sounds of the Athens Drive High School band.
Some 900 people attended the assembly where students and teachers were honored for various accomplishments. Pride and spirit was at a collective high.
Just then, a special guest speaker was announced. Jane Doe (not her real name) is a junior at Team Spirit College (not the school’s real name). She plays woman’s basketball. But that morning, she touched lives and inspired us all with her strengths as a relator and achiever!
Jane took the microphone from principal intern Erin Swanson; she resembled an unassuming young woman who was ready to hit the courts for practice. Her hair was casually tossed into a messy bun, and she wore shorts and a Team Spirit College sweatshirt…hardly the sign of a professional authority. Then she began to speak directly to the audience of elementary students. Instantly, she connected with them by asking focused questions and getting them to participate.
The girlish basketball star then began to take on a more serious and proud tone. She discussed her journey to where she is today from where she has come. As she told her story, it became crystal clear that this was no ordinary college sophomore. In her young 20 years, Jane has displayed more drive, more goal setting and achievement, more ambition, more maturity, and more confidence than most any adult I have ever known. She lives her life defining goals, beginning with the end in mind, constantly prioritizing, and putting first things first. Below, I will paraphrase the points of her awesome talk from my memory:
- As a girl, I showed great talent and promise in my home town. In middle school, I wanted to play basketball, and dreamed about playing in high school.
- More than playing ball in high school, I wanted to play varsity ball. This was my singular goal and I worked hard and played serious. In my freshman year, I started on the varsity team.
- That year, I decided that I was going to play basketball at the university level for scholarship. In my sophomore year I received that scholarship to Team Spirit College.
- Once I joined Team Spirit College, I knew I was there to be an impact player. I was a Freshman All American and won the ACC Freshman of the Year award that year.
- I knew I wanted to represent the USA playing in a world league. Just two weeks ago I was approached by my coach to represent the USA at one of the (world participating) games.
“The mission at AB Combs elementary is to develop global leaders, one child at a time.”
Next, Jane confides in the audience that she needs a new goal. As our individual minds soared with possibilities, the speaker revealed her newest goal to us that crisp, fall morning. We were all honored to hear that Jane will be “shooting” for another global goal, and that is to play basketball in the Olympics. I speak for the crowd when I tell you that none of us doubted for a second that this would be an imminent achievement for the athlete. Next, Jane Doe mentioned playing for the WNBA. She will get there and as she captured us with her transparency and authentic words, I decided she can have a parallel career as a motivational speaker.
As Jane charmed her audience, we found ourselves cheering for this young heroine with sincere enthusiasm. She spoke of priorities, goals, inner drive, and keeping all of the three key parts of her life in balance. Jane sees her school, her sports, and her social activities as an equilateral triangle to keep aligned. “When I start getting stressed, I go back to the triangle and make sure everything is balanced out…”
No one side of the triangle is more or less important than the other and in order for her to be at her best, her triangle must be aligned. “I don’t want my triangle to ever be a…a…an (hint from random member of the crowd offers, “isosceles”), and she quickly laughs and affirms that she does not ever want her triangle to be an isosceles triangle. Jane encouraged her listeners, now rapt with attention, to “get to know your teammates as individuals to synergize your efforts, both at work and play.”
Throughout her talk, Jane made it very clear that she works with purpose and passion. She reiterated the keys to her success:
1. Not being satisfied with status quo.
2. Striving and driving to the next level.
3. Maintaining synergy and balance in her “Life Triangle”.
Jane, thank you for bringing inspiration and mentorship to our leadership school. You have created fans for life and we support you from the bottom of our hearts. We felt your genuine care for the mission of our school and the future of our students. Again, you are amazing and thank you for your compelling messages which apply from the kindergarten through all of us adults who heard you that day!!
Kelly Welch founder and president of YES Career Services is a veteran HR professional, is certified as: Personal Branding Strategist, Professional Resume Writer, Leadership and Career Management Coach, Online Identity Strategist, and is accredited by the International Coach Federation. Resourceful and creative, she is reputed for her dynamic insights and passionate commitment toward helping her corporate and private clients rebrand and position themselves for career success.