Roll With The Punches

Chances are, when you first started at your career, you read an employee policy or handbook and signed it saying you would abide by the rules. If you’re a student, you likely received a syllabus for your course chock full of due-dates, milestones, and guidelines. Professional athletes have a playbook, coordinated strategies to synchronize as a team and win.

The Dilemma

Situation: So let’s pretend for a minute that the new hire has read the handbook cover to cover and develops a blueprint for how to implement their initiatives on their docket, that student read the syllabus and is heading to the library to start researching for their thesis, and that the quarterback just watched last weeks game tape and noticed that there was a second wide-receiver open and heads onto the practice field to demo this new route.

What can happen?

Everything can go exactly as the professional, student, and quarterback outlined with zero surprises.

Or, realistically, new, unexpected events happen. Punches. Curve balls.

And some of the punches and curve balls really hurt and if we aren’t strong mentally, emotionally, we feel stuck in a rut, in a funky, fuzzy place where we don’t feel like ourselves.


My Take On This?

I was once at risk for having an anonymous sense of self when I had signed up for my ad agency indoor soccer league. A super fast and tall guy form the other team had the ball and was racing towards the goal. I sprinted alongside him and was about to steal the ball but he stopped and made a quick cut back towards midfield. I turned to keep up with him and SNAP SNAP SNAP. It sounded like someone cracking their knuckles right outside of your ear.

My scream sounded like an actor in a movie when they see their loved one killed in front of them, nothing could possibly sound worse.  As soon as I made the sound I was embarrassed at how loud and horror-movie like it sounded.

After seeing a doctor the next day, and an MRI a few days later, the results were in: I had torn my ACL, a complete tear, you know, just like the NFL players.


Enter Pollyanna, wearing rosy colored, glasses carrying a glass half full of water and psyllum husks (tastes like a corn field…my health nut friend recommended to help with digestion…never mind!) the point is that when things “happen” to us we react. Fight or flight. Sink or swim.


I had the reconstructive surgery, wore obnoxiously bright neon outfits to physical therapy, and a year later ran a handful of 10Ks that impressed my surgeon with her own handiwork.

Obviously this is an extreme example! I am not, after all, an NFL player (or playing sports on that awful indoor turf that makes the orthopods shudder ever again) but this universe is full of surprises!


Perhaps a more Realistic Reference

This morning a friend wanted to introduce me to a friend at the gym. I had no makeup, surely smelled like I had ran a few miles and then lifted some serious lbs. (I had), and my hair was in a Wimbledon-esque pony-tail braid. Not exactly the first impression I would choose to meet someone. So, like the Beyoncé diva that I am, I refused to meet this friend of a friend – “I look bare!” – “My hair should be down, blown out, and sassed just-so!” – “I will be delayed in finishing my stretches!”

Alright, I’ll stop the charade. As it turns out, I did not refuse. “HI! It’s a pleasure to meet you, I’ve heard so many great things about you from my friend!” Just like that, I made a new friend.

Blueprints, Strategies, Playbooks are important. So is being receptive to new events and reacting in an empowered way to things that just happen. Being nimble in this organic, non-static world helps us continue forward with positive momentum. Helps us roll with the punches. Helps us adjust our hands on the bat to knock the curve ball out of the park, even when we were expecting the fastball.

Do you take pride in a situation where you threw the rulebook out of the window and just rolled with the punches? Share it with us in the comments below or tweet us @mscareergirl!

Columnist Archive

Image Credits: Runner Photo Credit Curve Ball Photo Credit

Kelly Christiansen

A top columnist at MsCareerGirl, marketing guru Kelly Christiansen has 10+ years of strategic leadership experience and is a Senior Marketing Strategist on the Health Care team at Kahler Slater, an architecture firm in Wisconsin. An avid reader, runner, and recipe experimenter, you can follow Kelly on twitter @kellymc247

You may also like...