Watch where you work…lessons from university
I read a newsletter from Martin Rooney earlier this week on his experience delivering a seminar at Rutgers University in the States and it got me thinking about my experiences at University both as a student and as a coach working at a university.
I speak with many people who are looking at doing a degree or who are currently studying for one.
Guess what the most common thing is that the current students say to me when I ask them how it’s going?
Almost without exception they say something along the lines of “I cant wait to get it finished” or “It’s all about the piece of paper” or maybe “It’s not what I expected, it’s all about theory”.
Thinking back to my time as a student at Northumbria and then Bolton University for my masters degree I completely get this mentality. The biggest thing university taught me was resilience. Carrying on when you’re not enjoying things. This is a valuable lesson no doubt about it. Much more so than the knowledge. But at the time all I wanted to do was train and be a martial artist so my course was a conflict from the start.
I got a lot more out of the university experience as a staff member. I was the Head of Strength and Conditioning at Leeds Met University for 6 years between 2009 and 2015. When I think about those times the memories are very positive. But why?
The true value for me was being in an environment where everyone wanted to achieve for themselves and for each other. The teams wanted to win and the individuals wanted to grow themselves so they could get the job and the life they wanted. Whether that was conscious for them I don’t know. But the collective feeling was very apparent
The atmosphere was always one of progress and optimism. You could feel it in the air and in the conversations you had with people.
This often gets lost when you get out into the ‘real world’.
In actual fact this feeling is not unique to a university environment. It’s unique to a performance environment. A place where people come to get better. My gym always had that vibe of petting work done even with the people who were nothing to do with the university, they were paying private clients. But I have to say that the collegiate feeling and being around a campus university does have something more than most performance environments. Perhaps that’s why companies like google and facebook set their offices up to feel like a college campus.
Often people who haven’t done a degree feel that they should get one ‘because they should’.
To be honest, if you want to scratch the itch then feel free. You may feel better for it.
But my suspicion is that you won’t and you’ll move on to the next thing you think you should have but haven’t got yet and become fixated on that.
Instead my advice would be to fix your environment.
Find a place where you can thrive by being around the right people. Where you can give value as much as you can get value.
You can feel the energy when you go into any office, business or leisure environment and ask yourself that question is this somewhere I can thrive?
To thrive you have to be able to contribute. You have to be a part of something. I would encourage you to look for a space where there are similar businesses, similar people, and even scheduled meetings between those groups that you can be a part of. WeWork do a great job in London. Platform is a great option in Leeds. I’m sure there will be somewhere similar you can frequent in your area. It might be the local coffee shop works for you.
The places you spend your time absolutely will have an impact on your productivity and your well being so it’s well worth investing the time to get it right.
What do you think? Where do you work?
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