During my senior year of high school I made the cut for the varsity basketball team having never played a single game of organized basketball. I didn't know it at the time but it would become the experience most influential in my approach to my career. Why? Every day is a tryout.
I ran track in high school because I loved the competition. I played basketball for fun with my friends, but never as an organized sport. One of my best friends convinced me to join him during informal basketball workouts to get in shape for the upcoming indoor track season.
I was a nerd. I was socially awkward. I didn't belong with the cool basketball players.
During the fun stuff, full court games, I'd end up playing with the underclassman and the JV players because my basketball skills were terrible. During the hard stuff, drills to get in shape, I'd excel. Most of my peers who planned to try out for basketball weren't trying very hard because they didn't think that informal workouts mattered.
The basketball season had not yet begun so coaches were restricted from running organized practices, but unbeknownst to most of us, they were watching. On one of the last days Coach Farias interrupted an agility drill to ask me if I planned to try out. I told him no, I hadn't planned on it.
"Too bad," he lamented, "you may be a diamond in the rough. "
I ended up trying out and earning a spot on the team purely for my work ethic. I beat out a lot of better players because I outworked them when everybody thought the coaches weren't looking. Making an impression didn't begin with tryouts, it had been taking place long before that during informal workouts.
I've applied the lesson that every day is a tryout to how I approach my career. I don't wait until it's time to submit my resume to put my best foot forward. I don't wait until my boss announces a role I'd like to prove I can take on a little more responsibility. I try to make an impression every day. I know that people are evaluating me today for the promotion I 'm going to apply for tomorrow.
It's an approach that helped me advance from Apprentice to Managing Director at Quick Left in 8 months. It's also created opportunities for me to become a co-organizer for House of Genius Boulder and the co-moderator for Boulder Open Coffee Club and Denver Open Coffee Club, which have been key in connecting me with a ton of great people and great companies.
Ultimately my basketball career was unimpressive. I rarely played in games and scored a whopping 8 career points. That said, making the varsity basketball team that year changed my life. It expanded my social circle, boosted my confidence, and showed me that improbable things can happen when you create your own luck. Coach Farias, thank you, as this lesson has stuck with me.
I haven't a clue what I'm trying out for these days, but I know I'm trying out for something. You should too.