As some of you might know, I co-founded and used to skate with the Windy City Rollers, an all-women’s roller derby league here in Chicago. And, even though I got married, moved to the suburbs and had kids, the team is still going strong, enjoying packed stadiums and traveling the country in search of its first National Championship.
During the few years that I was actively involved in the league, I learned A LOT. So I had a brainstorm yesterday, and decided to see how I could apply the myriad lessons that I learned into something that you might find useful. Here goes.1. Size Doesn’t Matter.
—In this game, the small and the tall can dominate. Little wisps of girls can kick a giant’s butt, and I’ve seen some lightening-quick skating from girls that could be linebackers for the Bears.
The point is, you use what God gave you. Even if you are a one-person shop, you can be a huge success by your own standards. And, if you are a giant organization, you can still enjoy an intimate work environment with productive, engaged employees through some good communication and an open door.2. It’s NEVER too late.
—With such a physically demanding sport, you might expect to see athletes in their early 20s on the track. Not so. I myself was 35 when the league got going. In fact, my Dad said to me, “You know, most athletes by the time they are YOUR age are retiring.” Thanks Pop. A lot of the women that joined us said they had always been “searching for a place to belong” and this finally fit the bill for them.
Well, the same could be true for you. New technology, new systems, or even new customers could be just the thing you have been quietly searching for. Are your eyes open?3. Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover.
—Many of the girls in the league look different. There are lots of tattoos, bright colored hair, and fashions of all kinds. One of my favorite skaters sported all of the above and then some. The first time I saw her, my old brain said, “Why does she hate her mother?”
I judged and thought that anyone that was using these methods to “get attention” must be unhappy and angry at someone or something. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. She was simply expressing herself. Remember that the next time you walk in to a clients’ office and see someone who doesn’t look just like you or what you would expect. 4. Hitting Hard Feels GOOD.
—The physical aspect of roller derby was the last thing that kept me from jumping in with both feet. I was afraid to get hurt. But what I discovered was that that physicality was great for me. Getting some aggression out did me a lot of good.
When was the last time you got to really release some of your own aggressions? Whether boxing, rock climbing or just a good old Rocky-style run up some steps—give yourself a chance to release some pent up energy.5. Re-invention is Good for the Soul.
—Almost all of the skaters use a pseudonym. Mine was Sister Sledgehammer. Finding that name and creating a persona was a great way for me to express myself; to be someone a little different than who I always was.
Sometimes reinvention can be something as simple as taking a route to work, or taking a new class, or going somewhere alone if you never do that. But a shakeup is always good for you. How would YOU take steps toward a little institutional or personal reinvention?
Roller Derby was most definitely my 15 minutes of fame. (Until I speak at GRAPH EXPO in September, which I am sure will be my return to notoriety and glory.) And I learned a lot. If you haven’t taken in a game in your town, do. I am sure there is a league somewhere nearby. See what you learn.