The Big Picture

Here is An UNSCRIPTD Journey written by Victor Williams:

Roots

As I reflect on my life, I realize that lessons from my childhood continue to guide both my professional and personal paths. I distinctly remember my mother telling me to “write the vision and make it plain,” which meant that I should always have a clear and well thought out plan of what I wanted to do or achieve. I also remember my father saying that you should always be “smarter than the equipment you’re working with,” meaning you can have the tools that you need, but in order for those tools to be effective you must know how to use them. Both of these phrases communicated the broader message that no matter the situation, it is important to have an idea of what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, and how to use given resources to get there. Also, my parents were not shy in expressing that in order to achieve a desired goal, I needed to be patient, to work hard, to be disciplined, to acquire knowledge, and exert immense effort. More importantly, I was also taught to always remember the bigger picture, and that, is what I’m most grateful for. 

Unfortunately, I did not grow up having the best example of what it took to be successful in the corporate world. What I did have, though, was access to the various experiences and perspectives of people in my community. This was a very different kind of mentorship, but it was one that encouraged me to learn from the mistakes of others and how to avoid repeating them. Thus, around the age of twelve, I started developing an idea of what I didn’t want in life. I began to formulate a plan that would get me out of Oklahoma and bring me success.

Like many other young black men, I believed that my blueprint to success would be through sports. This blueprint consisted of excelling in a sport, earning a D1 scholarship, and making millions playing pro ball. Thus, I worked tirelessly at becoming the best football player I could be. While that hard work and dedication ranked me #16 in the state across all divisions, I did not get the recruiting attention that I had expected. I was well aware that less than 1% of college athletes go to “the league”, and that my small stature was not favorable. I was prepared for this reality but I did not expect such a huge blow to my ego when the reality set in that OU and  Alabama would not be calling.

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Nevertheless this was the wakeup call that I needed. My father constantly reminded me of the benefits of playing ball at an Ivy League school. Initially I paid these comments little mind, but as my senior year of high school neared I began to think more critically about my goals. I questioned why I thought being in the NFL was the only way to success. Furthermore, I figured that if I played well enough at Dartmouth I would still have a shot in “the league”. Dartmouth was a more versatile option, it would allow me to receive an amazing education while still being able to play the sport that I loved.  I had started paying attention to the big picture.

Dartmouth

Upon arriving at Dartmouth, I felt three things: hunger, excitement, and nervousness. I felt nervous because there was this little voice in my head telling me that I wasn’t smart enough to be at an Ivy League school.  I felt excited because this was the farthest I had been away from home. Being at Dartmouth felt like a fresh start. Lastly, I was hungry because I saw an opportunity and refused to let it slip away.

That hunger made me want to do it all – I wanted to be an engineer, a football player, a track athlete, and a campus leader all while maintaining a social life. I wanted to soak in as much experience as possible. One of the first things I noticed when I got there was the lifestyle differences between Hanover, New Hampshire and Muskogee, Oklahoma. My beliefs and ideas of normality, masculinity, culture, and religion were almost immediately challenged, as they needed to be. It was at that point when I realized that the big picture mentality that I brought from home was much smaller than I had realized. As this journey began, I became more excited for growth.

Make no mistake – my main focus during my time at Dartmouth was football. I needed to prove that I could play anywhere in the country. Once more into the fray, this was my last chance to fight for the football career I wanted. Looking back, I lost focus on the bigger picture of why I chose Dartmouth in the first place – education, resources, and professional opportunity. Not football. I didn’t apply for internships and I didn’t study abroad. Instead, I stayed at Dartmouth during the summers so I could train to make sure I was ready for the season. In the end I did get the opportunity to showcase my skills at a pro day and CFL camp, but much like high school my somewhat successful career didn’t help me get the shot I thought I deserved.

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Professional Career

Luckily, through networking a Dartmouth football Alum offered me the opportunity to work as a Relationship Manager at his company, Talener. During my 11 month stint there I learned a lot about sales, account management, and networking, but realized that the staffing industry was not a place I was looking to build a career, so I decided to transition into a fully focused sales role at an emerging power in the Cyber Security industry, Darktrace.

During, what has been thus far an extremely short career trajectory, my biggest takeaway has been that success does not come immediately. In this day and age, technology has gotten us so accustomed to  immediate satisfaction that it’s hard to shift gears, take a step back, and recognize the bigger picture. Unless you go back to school, there are no more graduations or systems of milestones set for you – you have to write the vision and make it plain for yourself. It’s all about positioning. It’s about being ready for the next opportunity that presents itself. To do this you have to maximize each day, but at the same time not get too caught up in the weeds of what you’re doing if it isn’t something you’re passionate about.

It’s certainly harder to think long term, so what I’ve done in order to keep myself accountable is I’ve developed both long-term and short-term strategies that will help me achieve my goals. Although important, most people don’t take the time to actually write these things out. While it may take a few hours of thought to figure out what those strategies are, the hard part is staying disciplined, determined, and consistently giving maximum effort.

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Process Oriented vs Results Oriented

I recognize that it may seem a bit obvious for me to say that it takes effort to achieve a goal, but the truth is that it’s extremely easy to lose sight and get caught up in your day-to-day activities. In the midst of trying to figure out the logistical nightmare we call life, it’s even easier to lose sight of the long-term vision. This is something that I’m working on daily. In my opinion, that’s where most of us struggle – of course everyone wants to be successful, but the road to success can be filled with boring, tedious, and sometimes even unfulfilling work, which has distracted even the most driven individuals from the big picture. That’s natural, but what sets us apart from the individual standing next to us is how quickly we reset once we realize that we’ve lost sight of our vision.

Looking back, I realize that my parents instilled in the me the mind set to be results oriented – focusing less on the labor I’m doing and more on the outcome and what it will produce instead of being fixated on the process of what I’m doing. There are those out there who are more focused on the process than the results and that’s okay because everyone is different.

This is my UNSCRIPTD Journey,

Victor Williams

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