In college, I had the quixotic (to be optimistic) distinction of playing three years of singles in Division III tennis without a win. I went perfectly defeated at third singles my entire time there because I was good enough to be a top singles player on *our* team, but it’s doubtful I would have *made* any of the other teams we faced.
I understand tennis and I was good at mentoring and coaching younger players (I won teammate of the year my senior year), but I could never put those insights to use for myself. The game was too quick, required too much of being both coach and player simultaneously, and I wasn’t very good at that.
But growing up playing goalie on the hockey rink — a solitary position anchored in a team sport — I excelled. I won MVP awards in tournaments the team didn’t win, I was a standout in leagues against opponents I grew up with and who pushed harder every year. I was a team player, able to carry my own weight and support others, and accept their support as well.
In tennis, I was used to losing; in hockey the opposite. And while tennis was always enjoyable despite my abysmal win-loss record, hockey was also always fun, win or lose, because I was part of a team effort. We celebrated together in the locker room and we sulked together sometimes too. We propped up others and we let others prop us up.
I work the same way. Not a gunslinger copywriter — though I know others who are and admire their style — I prefer to work with a team, to contribute to something bigger, to do my part, to pull my weight. I take ownership in the work a way a goalie takes ownership in defending a team, but I take ownership in the overall effort as well. We celebrate together and sometimes we sulk together, but we always lift one another.
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