In 1994 I was a freshman in college with a focus on football. I wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school, so in order to play at the NCAA Division I level, I had to walk-on and prove myself. I was one hundred and eighty miles, three hours, and one state away from home. I didn’t know anyone and the questions I wrestled with were: Who am I now? What skills learned in high school transfer here to college? Will I find my new team? and Will I fit in? I made the scout team defense my freshman year, started on special teams my sophomore year, earned a scholarship at the end of my sophomore season, and started at my position as a linebacker as a senior. I was a student-athlete. And playing football with my teammates provided me with inspiration and purpose.
In 1999 I was a soldier in the Army with a focus on becoming an Army surgeon. I was eating breakfast with some medic’s on my team in the 82nd Airborne Division cafeteria at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on 11 September 2001 when the news broke that terrorists attacked America. There was a flurry of activity and emotion on post and again I wrestled with the questions: Who am I now? What skills have I learned that will transfer and enable me to fight and destroy this enemy? Will I find my new team? and Will I fit in? I left the medical field and I became a Special Forces Green Beret and I went on to lead a small and highly-trained team of warriors who fought against violent extremists and terrorists in the Middle East and South America. I was a soldier in the Army. And fighting the enemy with my teammates provided me with purpose and fulfillment.
In 2016 I retired from the Army and again I thought: Who am I now? What skills have I learned that transfer? Will I find my new team? and Will I fit into the workplace? That same year I met and was hired by Zach Maurides. Zach is a former Duke football player and the Founder and CEO at Teamworks in Durham, North Carolina. Zach hired me to sell collaboration software to college sport teams across the country and seven months later, he remissioned me to be an internal Leadership Coach for Teamworks. Three years later, I founded a Coaching and Consulting company with the mission to help others unlock their hidden potential and develop their competency so they, and the teams they are a part of, perform at incredibly high levels. I have intimate conversations with people everyday and together we develop actionable strategies so that they can find fulfillment in their life. This work brings me incredible joy.
So, this is a brief snapshot of how the last 25 years of my life have transitioned from athlete, to soldier, to civilian workforce, to CEO and Managing Director of my own Coaching practice. Today, I am incredibly fulfilled in my professional work as a coach and I specialize in coaching high performing veterans and athletes in transition. I wrote this article to share what I’ve learned in my transition moments, and in my coaching practice, because my perspective may help inform other athletes and veterans in transition out of competitive sport, or out of the military, and into their first civilian job.
I’ve come to recognize that I, and many athletes and veterans, want answers to these critical questions while in transition:
- Who am I now? What is my identity? For so long, I have been an Athlete, a Soldier, an Airman, a Marine, a Seaman, a Green Beret, a Navy SEAL, or a pilot.
- What skills have I developed that transfer? And how do I communicate these skills that I have to others (friends, mentors, at networking events, to future employers)
- Will I find my new team? How do I evaluate and determine the organizational culture of an industry or office team I am considering as my next employer?
- Will I fit in? What is my natural communication behavior at work and what shifts in my behavior need to occur so that I can thrive in the new workplace?
- How do I lead effectively? How do I influence others in my next job?
Transition from one vocation to another is challenging. If either of these questions cloud the vision that you hold for yourself during your transition, consider using the ISCBBI (spoken as “I SEE BY”(™)) framework and discover clarity in your transition moments.
The ISCBBI “I SEE BY”(™) Framework for high-performance in transition is:
“I” – Identity.
- Identity is “the distinguishing character of an individual” and character is “the mental and moral qualities unique to you.”
- What is your identity? What is your character? What are your 3-5 dominant core values and have you defined them?
“S” – Strengths.
- Strengths are your best attributes, your inherent assets, the things that make you talented and unique.
- Are you aware of your dominant strengths? If so, are you focused on a career that aligns with what you’re naturally good at?
“C” – Core Competencies.
- Competence is defined as “the quality or state of having sufficient knowledge, judgment, or skill, for a particular duty.”
- Have you self-reflected and identified your areas of core competency? Identify no less than 3 and no more than 9 Core Competencies and align these with your job search.
“B” – Behavior.
- Behavior is “the way in which you conduct yourself” “the way in which you function or operate.”
- How do you conduct yourself at work? How do you function? How do you operate?
“B” – Belief.
- Belief is “a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing.”
- What do you believe in? And how does this belief encourage and inspire you?
“I” – Influence.
- Effective positive influence is what we all chase in order to perform at a high levels.
- Leadership is influence. Do you have a great awareness of your influence?
I encourage you to embrace each of your transition moments and consider the “I SEE BY”(™) framework, in part or holistically, to rediscover clarity and enable your high performance in transition. Reflecting on your Identity, Strengths, Core Competencies, Behavior, Belief, and Influence may be exactly what you need to discover your next calling when your playing days are over or when your time in uniformed service ends. Have confidence…there is fulfilling work for your life after competitive sport and military service.
Article written by Court Whitman, a NCAA DI Football Player, a US Army Retired Special Forces Green Beret, an International Coach Federation Associate Certified Coach, and graduate of George Mason University Center for the Advancement of Well-being as a certified Leadership Coach. As a coach and consultant, Court’s partnered with hundreds of people and teams to examine identity, strengths, core competencies, behavior, belief, and influence. He specializes in coaching high performing veterans in transition out of the military and athletes in transition out of competitive sport and into their next fulfilling career. For more on Court Whitman, visit www.courtwhitman.com.