meet tibet spencer …
I’m Tibet. I just graduated from Indiana University, and I’m out in the real world giving the whole “adult” thing my best college try.
Originally from Charleston IL, I sort of fell into attending college at IU. My sister was a Hoosier so I thought I might as well try my hand in Bloomington. In hindsight, it was one of the better decisions I’ve made with my life.
I met a girl who put up with my weirdness (she is still doing so today), rode in the Little 500 bike race (the largest intramural college sporting event in the country), and walked away from college with a first class education that would have cost me a small fortune if I had decided to go elsewhere.
Moving from a small town to a big city for school was a weighty decision and there were definitely growing pains along the way (Bloomington is in fact not a big city, so that should say something about where I’m from). Maybe sounding a little pompous here, but back in high school I was a big fish in a little pond. At IU I was just a fish. In an ocean. A really big ocean. And there were sharks and things like that.
When the waters got rough that first year away from home, I would recall a specific memory from high school again and again.
I would remember high school football. And being really good at high school football. Looking back now, my relationship with the sport and my skill level at the time fit the definition of an expert. I know what you’re thinking, “OMG. This guy’s ego. Is he really going to tell me about his glory days playing high school football?” But hear me out on this one.
The memorable experience and the lesson learned isn’t unique to only football; it could have happened in any adolescent endeavor. It just so happened that I spent a good deal of my time participating in sports. The big takeaway, and the singular moment that sticks with me to this day, is the very instant that I overcame my fear of the game I loved. A fear rooted deep within me that hindered my raw talent — that is until the day I decided otherwise.
It was a scorching July afternoon. My team was participating in a seven-on-seven tournament — a competition of two-hand touch games between skill players. The score was kept and teams took it seriously. It was a proving ground to test the swiftness of wide receivers, the speediness of running backs and the precision of quarterbacks.
I was a rising senior at that point and projected to start the next season. The team was depending on me to perform — to catch passes, gain yards and score touchdowns. But something had been standing in my way for the longest time. I was not consistently catching passes like I should have been. I would have streaks of great plays and then droughts where you’d think I was blind or had bricks for hands.
Standing in the huddle midway through the tournament, I had a moment of clarity. I asked myself, what are you scared of? I had reduced my inconsistency down to a single factor: a break in concentration.
Ultimately a good wide receiver is only as strong as his mind. It is no easy feat to concentrate on a small, egg-shaped piece of leather flying through the air while angry young men barrel toward you hoping to plant you in the ground while inflicting as much pain as possible. But in my eureka moment, I deduced that to catch the ball, I first must see the ball completely.
From the very moment it left the quarterback’s hand until it touched my own fingertips and was securely tucked away against my body, I had to see the small, egg-shaped piece of leather and nothing else. To do that, I realized I must learn to un-see the impending doom that was sprinting toward me. That was the key: let go of fear and concentrate on the task at hand. The hit would come regardless, either on this play or the next. But I could move forward only if I had the ball, and for that to happen, I had to rid my body of fear.
So that is what I did.
I gave up fear. I realized that getting hit was a part of the game, and thus from time to time, pain was too. From that moment on, I became an expert. I had profound, uninterrupted focus and such a clear vision of what I must do, that I refined my skill down to a precise cadence, and catching passes almost became automatic. Almost.
That year my team and I set records. We were the most successful team in school history and went to the final four in post-season play, registering the most wins by any team ever to go through Charleston High School. I caught more passes that year than any player before me. I was an expert.
I’m looking to become an expert again.
Currently I’m interning at Young & Laramore in Indianapolis, a small advertising agency with big clients. I’m stationed on the accounts side of the operation assisting account managers with their accounts (say that 10 times fast).
On any given day I might be proofing a piece of material that needs to hit the press the next a.m., or sitting in on client meetings soaking up all the info my brain can handle. It’s far from the internships that hinge on your ability to recite coffee orders at Starbucks, or require a comprehensive understanding of copy machine operation — no, this internship carries real responsibility and every member of the team, intern to president, is a valued asset to the agency.
what makes me thrive …
I need to be engaged in work where I feel that my efforts are not in vain. Tangible results are great. I need to be able to creatively solve problems, and have the go ahead to do so, which means a declaration by the folks in charge stating that failure is okay — because failure is most certainly a part of solving problems. I’m not big on praise, and I actually like criticism more. Praise doesn’t make you better. Criticism does.
I don’t take work home with me. Of course this is easier said than done, but I make a conscious effort to be fully engaged at work. When I leave, I want to be fully engaged in what is before me. Work and what you do outside of work are a part of this big thing called LIFE. If there is an imbalance on either end of the work-life scale, both will suffer. And when that happens, days slip by and life passes without you.
I thrive when I balance the scale.