How Ice Skating Prepared Me for the World of PR

How Ice Skating Prepared Me for the World of PR

By Liesl Bellack

There is a moment when your blade touches down and the ice crackles. You realize that every eye is on you. Expectations are high. It’s now, or never. You take a deep breath and glide.

Looking back, I realize that a similar sensation washed over me when my phone rang and the line crackled for my first LaunchSquad interview. I dove headfirst into what would be a dynamic, two hour discussion on a wide range of topics. When I hung up, I felt like I had found my next big challenge, and it would likely last longer than my average skating competition.

Fast forward to the end of my first six months at LaunchSquad. I’ve realized more than one lesson from the 14 years I spent as a national and regional competitive figure skater can be applied to challenges experienced during my initial days spent jumping, spinning and twirling through the world of PR. Three reminders in particular have impacted my success with the Squad and helped keep my feet beneath me, even when moving on slippery (metaphorical) ice.

1. You are your own worst enemy (and best friend)
As a figure skater, I spent thousands of hours training and practicing for a moment that would last an average of three and a half minutes. By the time I stepped on the ice, every muscle in my body knew exactly what to do, and how to get me up in the air and spinning, twice. The single most important, but perhaps overlooked muscle for most of us, is our brain. It took me years, preparing for high intensity moments like competing on a national stage, to learn how to control this muscle. Like the rest of the muscle groups, it must be trained in order to become a powerful tool.

Every night before I fell asleep, I skated programs in my head. It was a non-negotiable element of my training routine and it had the powerful effect of permanently shifting my mindset. This same approach has come in handy more times than I can count as an Account Associate at LaunchSquad. While it’s impossible to predict my day in the same way I could my skating programs, I can permanently put my brain on the ‘can do’ setting and trust that when something comes along to reshuffle my schedule, my brain will know exactly what to do.

2. You control your own fate
We’ve all heard it before: you get out what you are willing to put into something. When I first started skating, I used to hate when my coaches told me this, but I came to realize that half of the accomplishment came from the ability to look back at all the hard work I’d done in order to reach my goal. Skating taught me that hard work directly impacted how well I performed and while many factors fell outside of my control, it was within my power to impact how I approached any competition.

In the world of PR, this approach takes a different form but follows the same rules. You will learn, grow and expand your skills if you are willing to put in the work. This means understanding there will be things you won’t know how to do, but knowing you have the people and resources to solve any problem. The hard work centers around stepping outside of your comfort zone and challenging yourself to not only learn knew ways of communicating and building relationships, but recognizing that sometimes the most creative ideas come from the most unexpected places. Putting in the work and the time to know your teammates and clients will help usher along valuable ideas.

3. When you fall down, get up
As a figure skater, I’ve fallen more times than I can count. My history includes thousands, if not millions of tumbles to the ice. So, how do you pick yourself up and decide to return the next year, stronger and better than ever?

In skating, I found satisfaction in challenging myself against myself, a technique that continues to be instrumental to my success in the world of PR. Last week I wrote an article for a client, twice, only to learn that the narrative was changing and I’d have to start again from scratch. When you get knocked down like this, it can be hard to pick yourself up and keep trying. In skating and in storytelling, I continue to be reminded of the power that comes from taking a step back and asking what can be learned from the experience?

Everyday in PR is like a session on the ice. You will try things you’ve never done before, you will solve problems with unclear solutions and you will fall down. The only difference is, at LaunchSquad, you have a full team standing beside you, ready to dust off the snow, assess the bruises and help you glide on in the right direction. Happy skating.

How has your favorite hobby prepared you for the workplace? Tell us about it in the comments or send us a tweet @LaunchSquad.

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