Transition to Life After Sport is the Opportunity of a Lifetime

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In an inherently selfish society, every individual is raised to pursue their distinct desires, wants, and needs.  Yet, when scenarios arise in which a person is forced to find acceptance in something that is seen as fundamentally negative, what happens next?  People are taught to maximize their comfort in order to live a happy life; what do you do when you have an experience that may alter your values and perceptions for the rest of your life?

There is a high probability that every athlete, at some point in their career, will have this experience. At some point in life, you will no longer be an athlete.  Whether you get too old, and are no longer physically capable of the long days and the toll it takes on your body. Whatever the reason, when you choose to step away, there will be a time where you cannot call yourself an athlete in the most literal sense.

If an athlete could no longer have sports as an integral aspect of their daily life, then everything about who they are and how they define themselves shifts. There would be no more strict weight training, speed and agility sessions or early morning practices; there would be no more exhausting sprints, suicides, or conditioning sessions.  Daily life changes, newfound time throughout your day allows for new activities, hobby’s and fun, but your sport isn’t there anymore.  Anxiety may be looming over your head – how do you find a job and still be surrounded by what you love?

Career coach, business strategist, executive recruiter and contributor to Forbes Magazine, Mark Moyer, believes this negatively portrayed moment for athletes is the opportunity of a lifetime. Throughout his career, Moyer has dealt with countless professional athletes who are tasked with transitioning to life after their sport.

Mark Moyer tells about an experience he had with a former NHL veteran to highlight the mindset he perceives athletes should take when entering the workforce.  The NHL veteran, a client of Moyer’s, had just entered retirement and believed it was his time to try and find a job in the professional world.  Despite a career that garnered accolades, playing the role of team captain and widespread recognition, he felt incompetent. Because he didn’t have and tangible, “work-force” skills, to play a contributing role in business, Moyer’s client felt as though no hiring manager was going to pick him over a seasoned business person.

Your entire athletic career has been a job. You have woken up every day since you began playing your sport. Every training session, practice, and moment spent playing your sport speaks volumes about who you are as a person.  Although you haven’t been an employee for a company, or haven’t had stand out internships sets you apart compared to work force competition, but you have been training every day in an environment that non-athletes can only dream about.

Businesses value hard-working, competitive and committed workers with impeccable time management to help their company strive towards greatness.  Hiring managers are looking for an employee with intangible skills that set them apart from the competition. They are often looking for someone who will contribute to their organization, and former athletes have the assets and characteristics of everything big businesses and corporations are looking for.

What athletes lack in typical and initial qualifications, they make up for with the intangibles. Interacting in a team to reach a common goal and an unwavering work ethic are specific traits that athletes possess that an employer avidly looks for. Someone who is a non-athlete may know what it means to work hard or interact with people, yet they haven’t been placed in an environment where their entire purpose is predicated off their ability to perform these tasks on a daily basis. Have they had to experience discomfort in multiple facets on a daily basis in order to achieve a goal that is bigger than themselves? Typically, the answer is no.

At the highest level of any competition, an athlete must be able to self-analyze and be aware of what makes them who they are. Athletes are masters in self-awareness and know using what makes them different to beat their opponent. In business, the smallest thing may help a company win. The ability to ask the right question that causes a customer to open up. An athlete’s knack for doing their job to their highest ability on a regular basis land them a role in management where they are tasked with imparting their wisdom on others.

While others view transition as a discomfort and something to be apprehensive about, athletes should view this as something different. They have been engrained with a “one more” mindset that causes them to build off of their past mistake to gain success. When an athlete’s career comes to an end, they should not be nervous. They embody the characteristics of a key contributor to any organization in the business world, which should be comfort enough in a time of great change and transition.

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