Careers, Pandemics, and Roller Derbies

3 min. read

If you’ve played a sport like soccer or basketball, you know what it means to find that little opening to turn nothing into something.

Or maybe you were on a roller derby team – where using the whip takes “finding running room” to a whole, new level.

Obstacles in your path? No problem. 

The same concept applies to professional development. It’s not about the barriers, but all the space between them.

People like to focus on the uncertainties a major organizational change creates. They think they have little, if any, room to maneuver. The organization will decide. Their futures left to fate.


These opportunities will happen in the most unlikely situations. But you need to be prepared, and you need to have your head screwed on straight (A.K.A. get out of your own way) when they happen.

First up. The shit-hits-the-fan perspective.

Let’s say an organization is in the midst of a big change, like what COVID has created.

Organizational life is shattered.

Everyone  freezes in their tracks.

They look for signs to make sense of what’s going on – like who talks to whom, who establishes eye contact, who flips out.

They fear the worst.

Most of all, they fear a loss of control.

Fate, a cruel game played out at their expense. A modern-day Greek tragedy. They are actors on the stage of impending doom, and there is nothing they can do about it.

Then, there’s the roller derby perspective.

Maybe it’s your organization, also in the midst of a big change. You realize that everything is up for grabs. Yesterday’s certainty is gone, today’s a question mark,  tomorrow – no clue.

You look around you and see three types of reactions:

1. A handful of what’ people who just don’t care

2. The vast majority in the wait-and-see-because-it-is-out-of-my-control category

3. A vocal group of hardcore cynics who love being victims. They couldn’t be happier

You, however, don’t want any of that.

Why? Because you know what it means to be in a roller derby – or at least understand the concept.

Change presents opportunities.

It’s all about running room.

You focus on what they can control, like increasing your visibility.  

You initiate discussions to better understand where the business is headed – out of interest, not desperation. 

You understand that telling your manager you’re worried about your job is the same discussion your manager is having with her boss. 

You know that the executive team doesn’t have it all figured out, which you see as a good sign. 

While others move to the sidelines until senior management puts names in boxes and publishes org chart, you look to influence a path forward for yourself.

What skills do you need? 

What job could you lobby for in a new organization? 

What do you really want to do with your career? 

There are opportunities.

You just may have to go find them.

Better yet, CREATE them.

You understand what you have to lose.

I say go for it.