Yoda said “Do, or Do Not, There is No Try”
Bollocks – you may have to try a few times before you “do”. This is the story of my life. The track coach at Newton High in Newton, NJ was my 8th Grade Wrestling coach. The big problem at Newton High School? We didn’t have enough people for all of the sports teams. Our town was 7000 people – the largest town in one of the largest counties in the state in the 4th smallest state – NJ. You are talking “Big Fish in a Small Pond” territory here. So he asked me to join his track team. And I did.
Newton and Sussex County were downright poor if you compare that area to the SF Bay Area. The Appalachian Trail ran through the county, and our county was stunningly beautiful, I must say.
Here’s the rub – even though you’d think that it would be easy to stand out as a big fish in small pond – it is kind of the opposite. Why? Because we competed with much bigger and richer school districts in Northern NJ – the closer you got to NYC, the more money there was – and the larger the population (more and better competition). I always knew I had to work my butt off – just so we wouldn’t be considered “yokels”, “bumpkins” or “hillbilly’s”. I was motivated by not being seen as a joke – or be embarrassed. In Cross Country we even kicked ass – because the rest of the teams in NJ were located in the flats (Northern NJ is one large scraped out lake land and swamp area of land left behind by the glaciers – with granite and sandstone ridges and hills). Newton was up in the hills. Guess what – we were hillbilly – goats running in Newton – and we kicked lots of ass on our very hilly cross country course. I remember passing so many runners up the hills – it was great. I always placed too – so there is that. I was one of the shortest runners (longer legs usually means you have an advantage). I never placed first though.
Luckily, we were never seen in a negative light – because we had heart and tried so hard. We didn’t win everything, but we (barely) won enough to be respected. Maybe Yoda was right – we “did”. I guess he was saying is that if you don’t even try – you can’t do.
I wish I could find the picture of me pole vaulting. I only signed up because they were short team members – and yet I placed in every single regular meet we had – but did not place in counties. I pole vaulted, ran the 440 and the relay. That’s OK – I was the shortest pole vaulter in the county, and shortest hurdler. I practiced all winter by doing hand stands on a robe that hung from the gym when it was snowy out. I remember knocking down so many hurdles – a cool metaphor for life?
Lately I have had to reckon with yet again – a changing IT job market. I have had to re-invent myself so many times (technology changes every 2 years in a big way), only Madonna has reinvented herself more. BI has been replaced by Data Science – which is now being replaced by AI – and companies are freaking out. Its kind of funny, actually . . . Cat chasing its tail?
I’m so glad I grew up as a scrapper – its what has made me successful in a sea of competition and money here in the SF Bay Area. I have competed very, very well with people from ALL over the world and with pedigrees way more impressive than mine. I’ve never been first place, but I still place.
And that’s exactly how I like it – but I am just starting to look forward to getting off this treadmill . . .