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Growing up, I always wanted to be an athlete

November 16, 20235 min read

Growing up, I always wanted to be an athlete.

As I entered my teen years and came to the painful realization that I was too small, too slow, and got winded too easily, I understood I had to adjust my dream.

So if I couldn't play sports professionally, I'd write about it instead.

Above is one of my favorite photos. It's from 1997. The Jacksonville Jaguars were hosting their first ever Monday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was taken right before the Steelers lined up for a potential game-winning field goal.

I was covering it on the sidelines as a reporter for Jacksonville University. And when the Jags won in dramatic fashion on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown with no time remaining, I also conducted my first "interview" on field with their star receiver, Jimmy Smith.

(I quote "interview" because I asked one question: "How does it feel to finally get the respect you deserve on national TV?" To which he responded something along the lines of "Aw, yeah, it feels good! This is the NFL, baby!")

I was totally in my element. I recall replaying that "interview" on my pocket cassette recorder (now I'm showing my age!) the next day on repeat at school.

I wound up living that dream for a while, roaming the fields, press boxes, and locker rooms of professional and collegiate events, interviewing athletes and coaches, while finding and relaying the stories within the game.

And then it stopped.

Looking back, I can't pinpoint exactly when, how, or why. Freelance gigs slowly dried up. Upon moving back up north, I was laid off from my hometown newspaper as print gave way to digital. As I started a family, I began chasing money and pivoted into sales. Life happened.

Fast forward to last year when I started my own business. I missed sharing stories. I missed interacting with other successful professionals who had great stories to tell.

But what I didn't realize at the time is that it was possible to achieve this and also get back in my element.

Just this week I had this revelation. I was so caught up in the fastest path to revenue that I completely overlooked the opportunity to get back to my roots. I already had a proven pedigree in sports journalism, and the passion for the industry has never waned.

I also realized there were plenty of former professional athletes who could actually relate to that slow, scrawny, winded kid who still got to live out a dream, until it went away. What do you do when that career is no longer an option? How do you find your footing when it's time for a second act?

So I've decided to rebrand, slightly. I am still helping successful professionals who are transitioning to a new, purpose-driven role, who want to be seen as thought leaders. But I'm now catering to the professional athlete.

Even writing that feels right. Yes, it also feels daunting narrowing my reach. But casting a wide net has not been a recipe for marketing success. Nor did it feel in line with my interests and expertise.

Nearly a quarter century after it began, I get to come full circle again. I'm living proof that it's never too late to relive a dream. I get to help share the stories of those whom I most admired growing up, and shine a spotlight on their unique expertise and insights that may have been overlooked or underappreciated in their previous role as an athlete.

Now that I've called the audible, it's time to deliver on the gameplan and win.

And, as a certain wide receiver would say, "Aw yeah, it feels good!"

Top 4 Things to Consider When Changing Careers:

  1. Identify your “Why”: 

    Take some time to reflect on what matters most to you. What are your core values? What are you passionate about? Then figure out what roles that will align with. But a word of caution: This process may require a large does of humility. In many cases, purpose-driven careers may not pay as much (at least not initially) and probably won’t come with the same sexy, high-profile status. So be it. This is a new chapter in your life and, if it feels right to do it, the other perks will come over time with the right efforts made. Until then, consider how you can adjust your lifestyle and expectations accordingly.

  2. Identify your “What”: 

    You’ve already been successful in a prior role, so it’s simply a matter of figuring what talents helped you get to that point and which ones are transferable.

    Were you a good communicator? Were you considered a leader? Did you have a strong work ethic? Grace under pressure? All of these traits are industry agnostic. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how the next opportunity will align with both those skills and your passions. 

  3. Identify your “Where”: 

    Once you have a good understanding of your values and passions, start researching different industries and organizations that align with them. Look for companies that prioritize issues that you care about, be it social responsibility, environmental sustainability, or another cause you hold dear. From there, you can either reach out to them, or, if you’d rather scratch your entrepreneurial itch, figure out how to emulate their business model by understanding their target audience and what pain they are alleviating.  

  4. Identify your “Who”: 

    Networking can be a valuable tool when making a career change. Reach out to people who are already working in your desired field and ask for their advice and insights. Ask to shadow them for a day, or speak to a satisfied client. A strong support system can be invaluable as you navigate a new career. Connect with like-minded individuals, join professional organizations, and seek out mentorship or coaching to help you stay motivated and on track.Better yet, get in front of the people you most want to serve. Figure out what’s keeping them up at night and where you can step in. Build a community that brings them all together. Remember: Every experience, even the ones that don't work out, can teach you something valuable. It's also an opportunity to align your work with your values and make a positive impact on the world.

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Jeff Glauser

Jeff Glauser has over 20 years of professional writing and personal/organizational leadership experience, along with a proven pedigree in sales management and instructive training. Upon graduating Jacksonville University with a BA in Journalism in 1999, he spent two years traveling the continent as an Educational Leadership Consultant for Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. From there, he earned his MFA in scriptwriting at the University of Miami’s School of TV and Motion Pictures.

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