No Shame in the Game

A friend of mine posted this video and article from the Huffington Post a little over a week ago.

In the video, tennis star Serena Williams says she isn’t feeling especially passionate about tennis and marvels at how she became a pro athlete because she hates sports, exercise, etc.

Then writer Peter Bodo basically rips her a new one for it, calling her “unprofessional” and “discouraging” and “unaware.”

Well, I say “Shame on you!” to Mr. Bodo and those who agree with him.

  • Mr. Bodo says Serena Williams should have realized 20 years ago that tennis wasn’t her interest to save everyone the time spent supporting her.

Uh … 20 years ago, she was a child. She really didn’t have a choice.

  • Mr. Bodo says Serena Williams isn’t a professional because she doesn’t know “the unwritten part of the definition is the mandate to continue doing whatever it is you’re good at, and to do it at an extremely high level, even though it can no longer be called ‘fun’ and it’s no longer something you ‘love’ in the most romantic, infatuated sense of the word”

Um … What kind of definition is that?!?

  • Mr. Bodo says Serena Williams should just suck it up and keep playing because “backtracking isn’t an option.”

Urr … Since when?!?

I think Bodo should replace the D in his name with another consonant because he’s acting like a clown!

It’s clear to me from watching the video that Williams had a bad day. She clearly says “I don’t love tennis today … but I’m here. And I couldn’t live without [tennis].”

Who hasn’t had a day like that?? I just had one last week (Read about it)! It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last. It happens to all professionals — and it’s OK!

There is no shame in the game!

No shame in making a career change. The person we are and the things we want to do at 20 are not necessarily the same person and things at 35 or 45. There’s nothing wrong with that. With proper planning, patience and time, it is possible to make a successful transition from one career to something new and different.

No shame in having a bad day. Or a string of bad days. In Serena’s case, she plays a sport that is physically demanding and it’s taking a toll on her body. I would imagine she’s in pain a lot and that her body doesn’t do what it did when she stepped on the scene 10+ years ago … I can’t do what I used to do 10 years ago, either! I worked 60-80 hours and never felt tired back then. I was able to work faster, remember more in the short-term and grind harder. Now, I have greater responsibilities and years of HR stuff rolling around in my head. My perspective is different. I am wiser and my grind is different. I love what I do — but there are days when I’m not in love with it. There are bad days. Really, really bad days.

No shame in expressing frustration. I get frustrated with newbies who don’t know what I know and can’t do what I do and don’t want to invest the energy to learn. I get frustrated with those who criticize and tear down HR without fully understanding how and why it works. I vent to my co-workers and my friends and I send tweets and status updates about my frustrations. So what?!?

Perhaps Mr. Bodo can’t understand this because he’s from a different generation? In his day, you got a job at something you were good at and you worked that job until you retired, no matter how much you hated it or wanted to do something else. Those days are gone though. These days, people reinvent themselves. These days, people have multiple careers — sometimes at the same time. Sure, times are tough — but there is still a lot of opportunity out there.

But none of that matters for Serena Williams because I seriously doubt she’s quitting tennis. She just had a bad day. And since then, she’s pulled it together and she’s back to kicking ass and taking names on the tennis court.

You and I, on the other hand, might seriously be ready for a change. The HR grind is a tough one and burnout is all too real! Here are some signs.

Just know that you are not stuck as Mr. Bodo would have you believe. There are opportunities! We can talk about them, if you want. Holla at me.

There is no shame in the game.

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