University of Maryland Student &
Sodexo Future Leader Intern
“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” That was the advice our AP Physics teacher told us before the Physics Olympics, a high school competition that tested students on their physics knowledge through mental and hands-on challenges. Being the cool high schoolers we were, we had spent the past months studying physics, completing practice challenges, experiencing failure and most importantly, finding success.
“Feel free to laugh,” he said as we all chuckled at his cliché, “but these are words true athletes live by.”
He was by no means incorrect. To be the best at anything in life, you have to prepare, train and remain focused on your goal for countless years. The journey many top athletes go through can teach us a lot about our own journeys and how to leverage our experiences to achieve future success. Here are some of the most important lessons:
Failure is okay. You’ve probably heard it before, but a friendly reminder doesn’t hurt. At all points in our life we experience failure, it’s how we learn. Our successes are essentially a culmination of our failures. When a gymnast is out on the floor, their moves are orchestrated by their past failures. The same goes for us in our lives and our careers. The best projects we’ve submitted are the ones that have gone through much iteration, the ones that have had the failures identified. Accepting failure is one of the first steps of growing.
Love what you do. Athletes who are at the top of their sport have often trained for 10,000 hours or more. While the training may be grueling, long and exhausting, they push through because they love it. Loving your work will make any difficult task doable, because passion goes a long way. Luckily, finding happiness in your job and loving what you do isn’t all that difficult.
Find your support group. Top athletes have coaches, trainers, fellow athletes, family and friends all by their side while they train. Finding people who support you is vital, because they’ll be there for you when you’re not there for yourself. At times, we’ll feel defeated and it’s natural. However, we need people around us who can motivate and push us to keep going. No task can be too daunting when you have a solid support group or network on your side.
Needless to say, my Physics Olympics team had failed many times in the months prior. We built airplanes that didn’t fly far or contraptions that didn’t protect an egg from breaking during a long fall. Luckily, we were all there to support each other and help each other learn. And, we loved what we did and it kept us going. In the end, as we competed in the final competition, all the lessons we had learned throughout our journey flashed through our mind and led us to a win.
Whatever you are competing for, whether in sport or in life or in the office, take pride in and value the journey as much as the final destination.
Jake Hughes is a Future Leader Intern for the summer at Sodexo, USA. During the school year, Jake is a full-time college student pursuing a degree in Marketing at the University of Maryland.