Undoubtedly you did not stay up until midnight on June 30 to countdown the start of the new fiscal year. We don’t often celebrate, at least in the same manner as New Year’s, the start of a new fiscal year. It means something different for all of us. Perhaps you were rushing to zero out your budget to end last year. Maybe you were holding off on the purchase of new equipment until July 1 because a budget line had been overdrawn back in May. Whatever the scenario, it’s important to step back and look at what the new fiscal and academic year brings to us in the athletic world. Here are a few words to think about as we embark on another new year…
Energy : Optimistically the start of the new fiscal year should be enough to revitalize you for what lies ahead. We battle, literally and figuratively, all year for our programs and student-athletes. We definitely are worn out by the process that is our athletic year. Now here we sit at the start of a brand new year with a new sense of energy, ready to attack a new set of obstacles, while still battling some of the same ones we have already faced. Whatever the reason you are working in this industry, hopefully it somehow reflects on the fact that you are energized by working every day, for and with, the great individuals we call our student-athletes.
Pride: By this time we are well past graduation for our newly formed alums, many of whom are out in the working world already. If you work with alumni relations in any capacity, then you know the great pride that lies in seeing what a former student-athlete does to impact the world well after their days of competition. It’s a little cliché, but the work we do to offer these young men and women the opportunity to compete in college athletics is truly setting them up for success in their futures. The best part about our industry is that we have a renewable resource. We say goodbye to our graduating seniors, only to be greeted by wide-eyed freshmen a few months later. The excitement and pride that goes with helping them achieve their goals and prepare themselves for their careers is something that can’t be matched.
Hope: No matter what the outcome of your individual program’s or overall department last year, there should be hope that this year will meet or exceed your own expectations (any fellow Cubs fans reading this will understand where it comes from). For some that might mean earning National Championships, for others it’s a conference title. There’s probably even someone reading this that might just be hopeful to win a handful of games this year. We will probably fall short somewhere along those lines this year. The challenge is to keep our hope pushing us forward in our commitment to excellence. Only you know the true benchmark for where you should be and how your will measure your progress to get there. There’s no harm in failing, only in letting it destroy your hope that you can do better in the future.
Difference : We all strive to win, do better, be the best, blah, blah, blah. It’s all just a façade to saying that we want to make a difference. However, the difference doesn’t always come in the form of wins. Sometimes we need to have the 30,000-foot view to see the larger impact we are making. In looking at what lies ahead, we can choose to focus on whatever we want to make improvements for the upcoming year. The bottom line of it all is that we want to make a difference one way or another. The cliché in sports of being better today than you were yesterday is very tried and true. However, we can also look at what difference are we making for the long term. Are we setting ourselves up for success just today? What happens tomorrow? Next year? While we focus on the now, let’s remember that with a new year comes the scope of the entire year. We must also not forget that beyond this year, lies next year (Diehard Cubs Fan!). There’s a simple quote that sums up how you can make a difference… “ The difference between who you are, and who you want to become lies between your ears…it’s all mental”.
If we are aware of the difference we can make, then we can go out and do it. If we let others convolute those thoughts, then there’s a chance we fail. Being the difference that you know you can be is the simplest and easiest way to be a difference that others can see.
Happy New Fiscal Year again to everyone! Whatever your focus is for 2014-15, remember that it’s up to you whether or not it will be successful. There’s no set path to that success, so chart your own course. Find your word(s) to help you focus on what you want to do this year.
Brock Wissmiller is the Assistant Athletic Director for External Relations at Upper Iowa University. Follow Brock on Twitter @bwissmiller