Connecting the Dots (Corrected)

by Jo Anne Nelson on November 14, 2012

A version of this blog post was published yesterday with William Fong’s name misspelled. Mr. Fong is the general manager and leader of a top notch team at The St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. My apology for the error.

One of my favorite poems is by David Whyte, and starts:  “we shape our self / to fit this world / and by the world / are shaped again”.

I ran smack into my past today, and it was surprising, instantaneous and completely comfortable. It has made me realize that in the process of ‘growing up’, I seem to have left an important part of me behind. In shaping myself to fit the world, I lost something meaningful to me.

I wrote a post not long ago about a similar experience, finding my voice after not singing for so long. Now it seems I’ve connected another dot.

I’m in San Francisco to work with a client this week and staying at our usual hotel, the St. Regis (a big thank you to Mr. Fong and his team!) It is also hosting the Nike Global Brand summit, and employees are here from all over the world.

As many of you know, I was an athlete and spent much of my life engaged in some form of athletic endeavor. In college, I was a track and field scholarship athlete. As a result, much of my time was spent practicing and preparing for competitions.

Following graduation, I transitioned into ‘normal’ life, where people are far more focused on work and less engaged in physical activity. And, they dress in attire that is vastly different than my typical outfits had been.

Like most of our clients, I have struggled with finding the time to integrate exercise into my schedule because the more pressing needs of running a business and family have superseded time for exercise.

So how did I run into my past? I walked into the lobby this morning to find about thirty Nike employees, dressed and ready to go for a run. And, it turned out that it was not just a run, but a competition as well. I found my ‘tribe’.

I am curious about my reaction, and interested in how I relaxed in the familiar culture. Upon reflection, I recognize that in the process of moving into adult life, I’ve left a big part of myself behind.

So now I’m going to experiment and see how I can incorporate more of my past into my present. While it isn’t appropriate to wear athletic clothes every day, even though I would love to, I can and will figure out how to incorporate more exercise and healthy competition. At the very least, I work in Georgetown, the historic section of Washington DC, and I can walk the hills each day.

How about you? Have you left part of yourself behind to become more ‘adult’? If so, what is it? If you integrated that element back into your life today, what would the impact be? Can you afford not to?

For me, the answer is no. By reclaiming my athletic roots, I will be happier, more productive, creative and effective.


Jo Anne Nelson

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