Plan the work, work the plan

Step by step, rep by rep, the line of exhausted candidates for the coveted Russian Kettlebell Challenge certification advanced across the gym floor. After a year or more of personal preparation, three previous days of nonstop instruction and serious work–and one final demanding day of testing–the candidates were literally within steps of their long goal: the letters ‘RKC’ after their name.

As they advanced, the shouting and cheering from their onlookers built the excitement: trainers began calling out “RKC! RKC!”–family, friends, and colleagues yelled the names of their candidates. The volume level increased in inverse proportion to the distance between the advancing wall of candidates and the bleachers where we sat; as they drew closer, we could see their exhaustion fall away, replaced by sheer surging adrenalin. Tears of joy and relief flowed and became indistinguishable from the sheen of sweat covering their faces.

As I wrote in my GiryaGirl.com blog posting about the Vienna 2012 RKC, to be present in those final moments of pain and triumph–to have shared that moment with a larger community I never knew existed before that moment–was great privilege indeed. I saw the passion each candidate brought to their pursuit of the goal–saw the root of that word made tangible: pati, or suffering. Saw it made real, and fulfilled.

In my pursuit of the Hardstyle Kettlebell certification just a a few weeks earlier, I had tasted a bit of that passion, suffering, and triumph at the end. Though their achievement eclipsed mine many times over, I understood.

I returned home this week to face final preparations for yet another new goal, representing my university and my office to a wider circle: the 2012-2013 HERS Institute at Wellesley College near Boston, a professional development network for women in higher education leadership and administration. The work volume has been daunting, to say the least: hundreds of pages of reading and note-taking; multiple interviews to conduct, write, and submit; data and reports from my institution to gather and begin to work with.

One of the pre-assignments related to my work with the institution’s mission statement and strategic planning documents: I had to prepare a personal mission statement and strategic plan, covering my personal and professional development over the next several years.

What a stretch for me! I confess I have been something less than strategic in my career development: every entry on my resume has included a generous portion of sheer serendipity (and perhaps even more pure dumb luck): from my first leap after grad school into registrar work, to my return to our alma mater, to our shift eastward to Virginia, and finally our eventual migration across the Blue Ridge to West Virginia. It has been a satisfying career, but not much has been planned, strategically or otherwise!

This particular assignment, then, has been every bit as challenging as my physical and mental preparations for the HKC; and I am hopeful that the results will be every bit as fulfilling.

Page by page, report by report–step by step–I have been building my portfolio for the first session, this upcoming weekend. I fly out Wednesday for Boston.

Where, by the way, I hope to hook up with one of the newly-minted RKCs from Philly’s certification, Sharon Shiner, and her kettlebells, of course. Gotta keep up the training . . .

More later, folks.

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