Lessons of The Barbell

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At 23 years old, I proudly wear the titles of Technical Recruiter, Cross-Fitter and Olympic Weightlifter. One is my career; the others are my passion. The lessons I’ve learned at the barbell have carried over into my career. The long hours sweating in the gym, talking myself through grueling workouts, being under the lights in competitions, and the hard-core hustle of being an athlete has proven to make me the successful recruiter I am today. Who would have known that the culmination of my athletic career and the pursuit of my dreams would teach me life lessons that I would forever hold close to my heart and apply to every aspect of my life?

1)    Are you “hefty hefty” or “wimpy wimpy”? Being a Technical Recruiter is NOT for the faint of heart. Recruiting is like riding an emotional roller coaster. Some days your hands are waving in the air and you are high on life!  Conversely, the next day can have your stomach in knots and you wanting to throw your head piece. Yes…it can be that extreme of emotions. The pursuit of being an elite athlete is very similar in this sense. Some days at the gym, you see the fruits of your labor come together perfectly. The weight is being thrown around easy. You leave the gym knowing you crushed that workout and it felt great. It’s all smiles and fist pumps. But then, the next day you have grabbed a seat on the struggle bus. Your body aches, you’re tired of the thousands of reps perfecting technique, and you have pushed the limits of your physical and mental capacities. However, Iooking back I wouldn’t trade a tough day in the world. As an athlete (and recruiter) it’s these struggles that have made me strong.  Whenever I’m frustrated, annoyed, sore or tired, I know how to turn off the “wimpy” voice and CHOOSE to be “hefty”.

2)    Setbacks are an opportunity for a comeback. Weightlifting and CrossFit challenge you in every way possible. Mentally, spiritually, and physically. When I have a rough day at practice or a bad competition, I have learned the art of letting-go. I revisit the drawing board and make adjustments as needed.  Just like recruiting, you WILL have losses that hurt and straight-up bad days. But over time I have learned that bad days make you appreciate the good ones that much more. You can look at failures as a setback or you can move forward saying, “I never lose… I either win or I LEARN!

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3)    “It’s time to trust.” Whenever I got anxious before a competition, my dear friend and mentor Katrina Young, 2016 Olympic Diver, would always whisper in my ear, “Alexia, it’s time to trust.” Recruiting is a grind. Most days are digging for leads, sourcing, and eagerly searching to find the “perfect” candidate. There are moments when the process seems to be monotonous and maybe even broken. But as a collegiate diver and Olympic weightlifter, I have learned to turn my brain off and trust the process. I trust that the attention to detail, consistency, and resiliency will pay off in the end. When the waters get rough and you feel like you are treading, I encourage you to focus on the process and put your trust in it.

4)    #HWPO – Hard Work Pays Off. Mat Frazier, arguably the most talented and fittest man on earth didn’t reinvent the wheel when he made this abbreviation his life motto. He added a hashtag and made this phrase HIS mantra. Winning medals and standing at the top of the podium was never achieved by talent alone. Often times, it is the result of the daily grind. It’s the dedication to give your best every day. It can be a hard ask, but a worthwhile one in the end. Whenever I feel the slumps of recruiting, I fall back on my work ethic that I’ve groomed and established since I was a little girl. I don’t get caught up in the things I can’t control, but instead use the valleys as motivation to keep climbing. Keep working. Keep grinding. In recruiting, you work with all different kinds of personalities, none of which you can control. Learning that I just have to do my best and things will fall into place as they are supposed to be.

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5)    Team work makes the dream work. As an elite athlete, I have learned to value my teammates, coaches, friends, and family more than anything. These are the people I celebrate my victories with and lean on during times of tribulation.  When I don’t think I can lift heavier weights, run a faster time, or push through the pain, these people tell me otherwise. They hold me to a higher standard. They don’t listen to my excuses and they hold me accountable. FIND THESE PEOPLE.  I have learned that there is strength in numbers and something very powerful when you have your peers sweating and giving it their all next to you. Surround yourself with people who are better and more successful than you. As a recruiter, I lean on my colleagues tremendously. Our successes are a group effort. We lift each other up & celebrate one another. My team at OIAM is full of team members that lift me up and want me to be successful. My success is their success. I have never been a part of a more collaborative and supportive team. This team is definitely one in a million.

6) Believe! Last year, I was approached by the CEO of USA Olympic Weightlifting to give the sport a try because he saw potential in me. One year later, I stood at my first National competition with two bronze medals around my neck. It wasn’t his words that got me there or even my coaches. It wasn’t my teammates or my parents. Yes…their support and words of wisdom helped tremendously. But my success has always stemmed from the belief in myself. I would be lying to you if I didn’t say I have struggled with doubt and fear in my athletic and professional career as a recruiter. But, no matter how many times I have fallen and failed, I have learned to believe in myself. YOU can be your greatest strength or worst enemy. To be a CHAMPION, you have to believe in yourself when no one else does.

In closing, I reflect on these lessons with a great sense of pride and gratitude. As an Olympic lifter, I squat heavy loads frequently. I have learned that squatting is the perfect analogy for life. The loads will be heavy, but it’s about standing back up after something heavy brings you down. Whether it’s your career goals or life in general weighing you down, I am asking you to dig deep, believe you’re a champion, and stand back up. Be unconquered and know that I’m cheering you on the entire way.

Xoxo,

Alexia