15 May 2019
The 2019 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament ended last month with a brand-new team claiming the championship. For the first time in its history, the University of Virginia (UVA) won a national championship. Just last year, even though they advanced to the NCAA Tournament as the number one overall seed, they were defeated in the first round after being beaten by a number 16 seed. They could have had their spirit broken and never regrouped. The opposite happened. The UVA fans, coaches, players, and new recruits were all determined to work together to make this year one to remember.
It wasn’t a single person that took UVA to a number one ranking last year and to a championship win this year. It was a team. We have teams in all aspects of our lives. Sometimes teaming happens organically, and other times it is by design. No matter the circumstance, being aware of who makes up our teams is the key to a successful outcome.
We know that NDT is a career field that allows for quite a bit of independence on the job. However, there is a definite team environment to which each person’s work contributes. This is a team dynamic that exists by the nature of our work.
Is your personal career dream team stacked for success? Who are the cheer captain, the head coach, the players, and the rookies? Have you been deliberate in crafting positive and motivational influencers who understand your passion and career aspirations? Think about the people who make you who you are and will help you reach your goals. Family, mentors, peers, and the people who learn from you are the key people you need.
Family is an important team element for a successful career. Having someone with whom to decompress and allow you to just “be you” at the end of the day helps to keep one balanced and grounded. This is the needed space to recharge our proverbial battery and enjoy the fruits of our hard work. Family doesn’t necessarily mean a relative such as a spouse—rather, it can be anyone who allows you the time and opportunity to take your mind off of identifying structural integrity issues that could cost lives. When put like that, these are the captains of the cheer team who keep us motivated and champion us on. We all need to know there is someone rooting for us as encouragement to keep going.
If family is the captain of our cheering section, mentors are probably the head coaches. Mentors assist in guiding us to meet our goals. It’s up to us to take each step in the right direction and not veer off the path. Keeping mentors on our teams as we journey through our careers helps us to see the compass, refocus when needed, and keep moving forward. Sometimes they help by saying, “It’s OK to take a moment to catch your breath; you will get there,” when you are feeling overwhelmed. Other times it may be a different tactic. “You have two seconds on the clock and no timeouts to make a game-winning shot. Plant your feet, focus, and shoot. You got this.” Mentors on your career dream team ensure you have the wisdom of seasoned experts to keep you from avoidable roadblocks and red flags when striving to reach your potential.
Peers are essential on a team because everyone needs to learn to “pass the ball.” Learning the value of trust and being trusted by people within your relative career level is important to (1) gauge your own skill level and effectiveness, (2) identify characteristics of people who may be achieving success or receiving reprimand, and (3) understand and respect how each person’s individual responsibility contributes to the success of the team.
The final group of people you need on your career team are the people who are learning from you. To continue with the sports analogy, these would be the junior varsity players or rookies. Why do these people matter? Just as your mentors share their guidance with you, you should make a point to be a resource for others. As your education and expertise increases, so will the knowledge you can impart. Don’t wait to reach a certain level to start mentoring. Having people around you to ask “why” or challenge a principle you have known to be true will give you a chance to get back to basics and remember where you began. We all need connections to moments of humility, and those can happen when mentees ask probing questions about our journey and seek advice. Your accountability to the people who are learning from you will keep you on your toes. They will be there looking at you, following you, and wanting to see you win. Your reward will be seeing these people become peers on your team, and then seeing them creating their own dream teams with you as their mentor (or head coach).
Part of my dream team during my four and a half years at ASNT is the International Service Center staff and the many volunteers who I include among family. Not only have they championed me along and teamed up to bring great ideas into fruition, but they have also welcomed me to be “Arny.” No one does anything singularly. Our wins are shared. Our disappointments are shared. Our resolve to be better and to make changes that matter is shared. I had many years prior to coming to ASNT to learn that roles on my team can change depending on the circumstance. I have been the rookie, player, cheer captain, and head coach all with this same group of people as I learned from each of them, supported their efforts, and coached to achieve our outcomes. I hope everyone in the ASNT community recognizes that a team of people with endless passion for NDT and undisputable desire to see ASNT succeed for years to come are here for you. Trust that you have a dream team leading your society.
Sports analogies are ubiquitous, but they will never cease being the most relevant and true examples of universal team principles. You decide your measure of success and build the team that will best help you to achieve it. If your goals change, consider changing your team members. Remember, this is your career and it will be limited only by your effort.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
ASNT Executive Director