“Packing up, Resigned, Terminated, Let go”.
Different words, but the same meaning. The recent and huge ‘shifts’ of Div. I coaches: Tony Seaman (Towson), Richie Meade (Navy), Jim Stagnitta (Rutgers) and the overlooked programs at Wagner College and SUNY-Binghamton, reminded me of a very personal, yet VERY important experience and lesson – being FIRED.
Winning is memorable. Losing is UNFORGETTABLE!
1996. We were defending a New-England Lacrosse Championship title in our league. The first full-time start against The Gunnery School my senior year in boarding school and I had a very strong 1st quarter (about 6 saves in). Soon enough, I “tanked” and folded like paper – letting in about 15 goals in total at the end of competition. Head down and disappointed, I was at the front of the line to shake the opponent’s hands. Coach Brande pulled me aside from my teammates, who were all heading to the fieldhouse, and told me “as the captain, you really need to look at yourself in the mirror and question your performance…”
I’m always asked what spurred my starting The Art of Lax™. Yeah, I might’ve been drawing lacrosse players during English class in boarding school or my failed attempt for a “senior thesis” in art school. But I think there was something else behind it.
Having enthusiasm shows. Not having any enthusiasm shows, too.
2005. There was not a lot to like about that current job, looking back, but I knew I hated it. The work was more of a job than a career step. Regardless, I thought I did my job well but my boss didn’t see me in that situation, thus my reviews weren’t spectacular. I was told of a meeting with my boss was to come and I knew what that meant. I talked to my parents for advice and my Dad mentioned that back in World War II, the 2 most successful, yet feared U.S. Generals by their enemies (Gen. George S. Patton by the Germans & Gen. Douglas MacArthur by the Japanese), were both eventually fired by their superiors, Gen. Eisenhower and Pres. Truman. My Dad, being a very laconic person, left it at that for me to figure it out.
The Mirror Test.
As the meeting with my boss got nearer, I decided to meet up with some friends of mine at a bar to “take things off my mind” – that was easier said than done. I showed up about an hour early and sat down at one of the ‘red & white’ checkered tables at Dorrian’s Red Hand in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. With a blank sheet of paper and a pen, I questioned “if I had to describe myself in 5 words to somebody, what would they be?”
I don’t remember what order these two words came in but they were definitely the first 2.
3. History – AP History in boarding school and always known for watching The History Channel more than ESPN. Ironically, Art History never appealed to me in art school.
4. Food – Cooking (and dining out), another thing I do a lot during the week.
5. Travel – Love to travel Internationally and experience/learn the many different cultures of the world.
“Getting into hot water hurts, but hot water keeps you clean.“ – Malachy F. Cleary (former assistant Headmaster, St. David’s School – NY, NY)
I looked at Art & Lacrosse and realized the very rare combined interests of two polar opposite audiences and genres. That rare combination, I thought, could be unique. It turned out to be the BEST decision to have ever happened to my professional career. Eventually, I had that meeting and I was “forced to resign” but that felt more of a relief, rather than a disappointment.
Hindsight is 20/20. Lesson Learned.
2011. Of those 5 words, the first two, simply put, describe me the most and the venture I decided to embark on. Somebody told me “you have to do the things you do not like in order to find the things you do…“. That situation, forced me to look at what I really LOVE to do. Looking back, I shouldn’t have waited for something negative to have happened first, rather I should’ve drawn the line and “fired myself”. But making mistakes is how you learn and if I wasn’t “let go” I wouldn’t have known what I wanted and wouldn’t have accomplished the many things to this day with The Art of Lax™.
“It doesn’t matter what happens to you in life, it’s how you react to it.” – David Neeleman (former CEO, jetBlue Airways)