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What I Learned About My Career From Deadlifting 260 lbs.

If you had asked me 15 years ago that I would be deadlifting 260 lbs. on a Wednesday night after a very long work day, I would have told you, “Man, that’s very specific but seriously, what’s a deadlift?” You see, I grew up in a baseball-loving family where most weekends were spent watching my dad and brothers play.

In college, my sister played softball so it was only obvious that I, as a high schooler, became a badminton player. For 15 years of my life, I played high school and collegiate competitive badminton (collegiately, in five different countries). Then I turned to running and then I found powerlifting so that I could be good at running. Today, I just lift for fun.

On that hot Wednesday afternoon session, I went in trying to one rep max my previous 235 personal record. I loaded 260 lbs., mentally prepared myself, set my back, and I lifted. What did that particular deadlift teach me about my career in communications?

1. Everything that you've done previously, has prepared and strengthen you – preparation is key. I began my professional communications career as a digital marketer and then a couple of years ago, I delved into internal communications. In both external and internal communications, one of the main goals is engagement. For example, I've been able to adapt some of the engagement strategies I’ve learned in digital marketing (e.g. people love good stories just read Wired for Story by the talented Lisa Cron) to create storytelling pieces that dramatically increased employee engagement. As Nicola Brown said,

"Good storytelling is just as vital to successful internal communications as it is for external campaigns. Companies that thrive long-term are the ones that tell stories to their own employees as well as to their customers."

2. Don't compare yourself to others, you're strong in your own unique way. Out of college, I first pursued a teaching career but then after graduate school, I decided to transition into marketing. Once in marketing, I found myself surrounded by so many talented individuals and I found it difficult to differentiate myself from them. I also kept seeing people quickly achieve their goals and I felt I was in a state of stasis, even though I was working very diligently. Today, I don’t compare myself and I recognize the qualities that make me – me. I’ve realized that my energy, drive, diligence, and grit are taking me towards my goals. I am me and I carve my own career path; I am proud of my progress and embrace my continual growth.

“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.” – Shannon L. Alder

3. It's difficult in the beginning but don’t slack off half way, it will be worth it in the end. One of the main differences betweeninternal and external communication are the methods they utilize to exchange information. In general, I came from social media campaigns and SEO to employee wellness projects and the intranet. While there are many similarities within internal and external communications, it was quite the adjustment in the beginning. As I spent more time in communications, I’ve realized that it is fulfilling. The positive feedback I receive from projects I’ve developed and implemented is what motivates me.

4. Making funny faces along the way is optional. Not everything will go according to plan and yes, there have been bumps along the road. However, I truly enjoy my growth and learning experience in communications.

5. When you reach your goal, make a new one. Every time I’ve finished a project, either in internal or external communications, I jot down the things I was successful at and those I was not. The notes about the things that could have been better, I take and analyze those further and then I adapt them into better projects. New goals + moving forward to achieve them = my motivation.

6. Remember to breath. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, “This is 260 lbs. I have to get from the floor all the way to a hip locked position!” or “This survey deadline is in four days and I have to get more than half the target audience to complete it.” However, it's necessary to pause and take a deep breath when there is a big task at hand. Before I even approached the weight, I psyched myself into a positive attitude, literally took a deep breath (as you can tell in the pictures), and spearheaded the task.

I deadlifted 260 lbs.! Now on to my next goal of 300 lbs.