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LoSt in thought

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Opinion Article by Jackson Burns

Hey everyone, it’s LoSt. I’ve been writing a reflection paper for a group project I recently did, and it’s gotten me thinking about the nature of initiative. I’ve had an epiphany of sorts, so I figured I’d capture some of my thoughts before the muse escapes me.

Let me start off by saying that this project I was working on, it was a disaster. We were supposed to have a “project manager” to oversee things, make sure everyone was doing their work, plan meetings, that kind of stuff. I’d toyed with the idea of being a project manager early on in the semester, but once it came time to start working on things I wasn’t interested. I had enough on my plate with school and work and my girlfriend; I didn’t want any more responsibility. Apparently neither did our project manager, because he didn’t do squat. No organizing, no setting up meetings, no making sure people were getting done what needed to be done. In fact I didn’t even know the guy WAS the project manager until the very end of the project, at which point I’d already taken over the spot de facto because no one else was stepping up. Like I said, it was kind of a mess.

Now that the whole ordeal is finished we are supposed to write a reflection paper about our experience. Naturally, I started off writing all of the flaws of my other group members. It was easy; I’d been bottling them up my distaste for them for quite some time. I hadn’t said anything because I didn’t want to start any fights with these people, not when we still had work that had to be done together. But now that time was over, and I had a confidential platform to vent all of the frustrations that had built up inside, so vent I did.

They were unorganized, unmotivated, and lacked good personal hygiene. They gave me the hardest parts and saved the easy stuff for themselves. They were poor public speakers, and they’d ignored my advice on some things that would have made the project better. One of them could barely speak English properly and couldn’t write worth half a damn. Most of all I just didn’t like them.

I kept thinking things over. I’m a critical person by nature (some might say I’m TOO critical at times), so once I’d finished with my group mates, I turned my focus to myself. I started thinking about my personal failings, all the things I could have done better: I could have shown up to every class. I could have asked my manager when and where our meetings were instead of relying on him to let me know. If my group didn’t respond to my 1st or 2nd emails I could have sent a 3rd and a 4th. I could have gotten involved in the process earlier. I could have done more.

That last one was what really set the wheels turning for me. I could have done more. It didn’t matter what everyone else did or didn’t do. I had the opportunity to put my name in the hat to be a project manager, and I didn’t. Not because I didn’t think I could do it, but because I didn’t want the responsibility.

I have found in my personal life that motivation can be contagious. If some people in a group are passionate and driven, more often then not that will rub off on the others. Many of you are probably familiar with this from your own experience on a wrestling team– if there were some hardworking and motivated kids in the room at the start of the year, then you probably ended up with a LOT of hardworking and motivated kids by the seasons end. On the other hand, if your team leaders weren’t the kind of people who wanted to run that extra mile after practice, then the team as a whole probably suffered for it.

What recent experiences in my life have taught me is not to be a bystander watching these things occur, but an active part of the process. Lead by example. If you’re still wrestling, don’t wait for someone to tell you that you have to do those extra drills after practice, do them on your own. Take initiative.

I want to make it clear that I’m not talking about working hard. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there with a way better understanding of that concept then me. After all, I am talking to a group of wrestlers.
Don’t just work hard; be the person who makes things happen. Be the person who goes out of his way to make sure things get done and they get done right, regardless of whether it means doing more then your share. It’ll payoff in your life, I guarantee it. Young as I may be I’m finding that out already through the work I’m getting to do for TOM.

I’m relating this to wrestling because most of the people reading this are probably wrestlers or fans of wrestling, but it’s an idea that applies to every aspect of whatever you might be doing in life. Stuck in a dead end job? Working on a school project with a bunch of idiots? Take the initiative to make things better. Your job might still be crummy, and the people you are working with will still be idiots, but eventually someone is going to take notice and doors are going to open up.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, in life don’t hope for a motivated leader, be one.

-Jackson Burns AKA “LoSt”