The first time I kicked up a free-standing handstand, I was ecstatic. I had worked hard, and I had dedicated a lot of time getting comfortable being upside down, learning how be aggressive with a kick-up while also weirdly not being too aggressive with a kick-up. Being upside down, suspended by my own strength, and being able to tighten-up and hold the pose was a feeling unlike anything else because it felt like a lot of hard work paid off. When I stood back up straight, I had a lot of people cheering for me. Coaches and gym members were happy for me, and I was happy to receive it. However, as quickly as I thanked them, I got right back to business. This was a good success, but it wasn’t going to be my last one. The time and place celebration had passed, and it was time to get back to work.
Throughout my life, whether it be at the gym working on getting stronger and more mobile, or scoring a goal in ice hockey, finishing an important project at work, or getting picked to be part of a great event, I’ve adopted a similar strategy. I’ll allow myself a few minutes to celebrate, either in private or with people close to me, and then it’s time to move on.
Why? It’s because of some advice given to me a long time ago by someone who I looked up to (who also happened to be my boss at the time). Echoing Bear Bryant, he told me that “Rule number one: when you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before” no matter where “there” was. The rationale is that you’re to be the professional, who’s there to do a thing, and to do it well. During and after, treat it like it’s no big thing.
On Monday, October 1st, 2018, I was awarded the Microsoft MVP Award for the Data Platform category. I received the notification while I was in a meeting, so I had to try and stifle my excitement the best I could and focus on staying engaged. Once I was out of the meeting though, I realized I had to let someone know. After all, this is a major accomplishment and something I should be proud of. But I didn’t feel as if I should just run to social media right away with the news.
Instead, I crafted a quick email to a select group of people who have been there to support me through many different means, and I had a few quick meetings in person as well. These people have been mentors, friends, critics, comforters, employers, and peers. These are the people who believed in me, who gave me the shots to be who I am, and allowed me to have the success that I have. Without them, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.
And then, I was ready to get back to the grind. Moment over.
“I wish you could love yourself more, Drew.”
Coach Jenny always calls it like she sees it. She’s seen me struggle just as many times as I’ve done well. Of all the coaches I’ve worked with in my fitness and wellness pursuits, I’ve connected with her a lot. While I’ve only been able to help her a tiny fraction of how she’s helped me (and really, the same goes for a lot of the Friendship Fitness staff), she’s been someone who I can talk to about things not directly related to just my physical well-being. She can tell when I’m up or down, because it’ll show. And during one low period recently, we talked about some things, and that’s when her comment came up.
It took me a while to realize what she meant, and she’s not wrong. I can be my own worst critic at times. For those of you that have worked with me (or know me on a more personal level), I think you’d probably agree. For reasons I won’t get into, I have a hard time accepting that I deserve anything. That’s a pretty big problem to have, and it’s something I’m working on. Regardless, I’m fortunate to have people in my life to help me realize that’s not always the case. Part of that is taking the time to celebrate and realize that I do work hard, and being recognized for that is okay to share.
For those people, I’ll always be thankful. They’re big fixtures in my life, and they know who they are. I value them more than anything, because they help me realize that I’m doing good.
So what happens now?
It’s been a few days and I still am trying to find the right words to describe how I’m feeling. I’m not sure I’ve found them all, but there are some that need to be said. First, I want to take the time to publicly say: thank you. Thank you all for believing in me. Thank you Microsoft for this incredible award. Thank you IGS for giving me the flexibility and encouragement to be out in the community.
I’m sure that the coming year will bring all sets of new challenges, successes, and even failures. However, this award and process has taught me not only have I accomplished so much, but along the way I’ve gotten to know some pretty incredible people who all believe in me. They also taught me the most important lesson of all: that I should believe in myself. The least I can do is listen to them, and maybe help someone else learn the same lessons.