What Olympians Can Teach You about Career Management: Kerri Walsh Jennings
In sports as in many workplaces, age can be looked at in two ways. On the one hand, older people may be stereotyped as stuck in their ways, slower to produce, or washed up. On the other, they can be seen as knowledgeable, dedicated, and proven.
Guess which of the two categories beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings falls into?
At the ripe old age of 33 (soon to be 34), Walsh Jennings is proving that she is perfectly capable of keeping up with the younger crowd. With two golds to her name from previous Olympiads, she already has earned a place in the sport’s history. But like any successful “older” worker, she continues to learn, perfect her skills, and work on her relationships.
In the years since the last Olympics, Walsh Jennings has become a mom. Her two sons were born in 2009 and 2010. She notes that achieving a work-life balance can be difficult, and learning to ask for help has been critical. Her husband (Casey, also a volleyball player), her sister, and her mother help out with childcare duties and provide the support system every mother needs. Concentrating on work is much easier when you know your children are in good hands.
Not ready to just rest on her reputation (which, by the way, is one that can spark awe and some fear in opponents – another advantage of being a known commodity), Walsh Jennings continues to look for ways to improve. She makes no secret of seeing a sports psychologist to help with mental aspects of the game. Her volleyball partner, Misty May-Treanor, has participated in some of the sessions to help the duo get on the same page and talk out their thoughts and feelings. Communicating directly rather than making assumptions can help all colleagues relate better with one another.
And then there are her goals. Not content to merely win another medal, Walsh Jennings wants to do so in domineering fashion. The Walsh Jennings/May-Treanor team has never lost an Olympic set or match and have no intention of breaking that streak in London. Set your sights high and amazing things are bound to happen.