Quite a scary title, I think, and even more to share it. But, hey, this is me.
Besides introducing myself and having the standard story about my background, studies, hobbies, that kind of stuff, I want to share something more about my personality, I guess. I’m trying to give you some more information about me as a person and where certain behaviour comes from.
I truly, truly believe that who I am today, is because of how I’ve grown up as a kid. Sport was (and still is) a huge part of my life. I can genuinely say I’m addicted to sport.
When I was 3 years old, I joined something like a kids gymnastics, once a week. I think I was hooked. After a few years, only until I was old enough, I joined the more serious gymnastics as a 6 year old. A big group of gymnasts, three coaches and before I knew it, I was there for 6 hours a week or more. Apparently I was pretty good at it, I became third in a few regional games and my parents had to drive me everywhere to compete. I loved it, and I always tried to get better. But it came at a cost. Because I loved it, but also hated it. It was a very, very hard world. Was your performance not good enough during practise? Damn sure you’ll hear about it. And not in a friendly way. So you worked your ass off to do better, but the thing a coach would say was that you did a good job. They left you hanging thinking it was still not good enough, only to try to do even better next time. Rolling your ankle? Or falling off something? No way you would show a tear. I wouldn’t even dare. You would get up and try again. No one who came up to you to see if you were doing alright. Oh, and by the way, I’m not looking for any compassion, but I was only 7-8 at that time. I’,m just giving an example that formed me while growing up.
After three years of gymnastics, I had to stop because we moved. Those three years formed me more than I ever could imagine. I couldn’t do gymnastics at my level anymore, since that was not around, and I decided to give volleyball a try. I instantly loved it, wanted to become better and better at it. Changed volleyball clubs, and at the age of 11 onwards, I spent most of my time in a sportshall after school and in the weekends. I was breathing volleyball. Eat, sleep, school, volleybal, repeat. Let’s say about 12-15 hours of practise and playing games on top of that. Two a week if possible, playing in different teams. Getting better every day.
The volleyball life was not a hard life in the way gymnastics was. Coaches treated you with respect, but expectations were high if you wanted to make it or if they thought you were talented. I was used to the ‘hard life’ that I experienced in gymnastics, so basically I just shut up, and work my ass off. The message was quite simple. If you’re not good enough, you won’t make it. So I did everything to make it. At the age of 16 I already had a few years of talent teams, extra training sessions based on your ‘level’, which pretty much openly showed how good you were compared to others in your age group. I didn’t go to a special top sports school or had reduced hours because of the amount of volleyball I played. I just worked as hard as I could to get good grades in all classes, like every one else. My parents set the bar that as long as my grades we good, I could go to practise. Best motivation in my life I would say. If I ever copied homework from my classmates? Maybe… Anyway, I graduated secondary school. The four upcoming years I played in the first team, on a national level, until I was 21, while I was also studying full time at college. Not a special top sports college or anything, just normal like everyone else. I just organized myself that my college hours were built up around my volleyball practise schedule. I’m not saying this to brag, that’s just how it was. No special treatment. If I wanted something, I had to work hard for it. And yes, most of it did work out the way I wanted it. Because I worked hard for it. So, I played in the national competition for multiple years and graduated without any delays.
Unfortunately I played on this level in the middle of the economical crisis, volleyball clubs didn’t have money and by the time I finished my studied, I wasn’t good enough to go abroad to make a living as a professional volleybal player or anything. I felt I reached my maximum and because I had to make some money I had to stop playing volleybal on a national level and go for a different career. A hard decision, but also one that formed me until today. This whole upbringing formed me to who I am today. A high achiever.
I’m a high achiever
Having done what I did from 6 – 21 years old, has formed me. It has formed certain behaviour that can be hard to understand for some people. Especially combined with my dutchieness, especially in a different country. I’ll point out a few key elements of me as a high achiever.
I’m doing stuff even if I don’t feel like it. Were those years as a gymnast or volleybal player always smiles and fun? Do you think I was in the mood to train every day? To train my weaknesses, to become better? Certainly not. I went through deep valleys (e.g., being injured, struggling juggling school and sports, performance pressure for important games coming up, failing on an important game). But being disciplines helped me to achieve the high mountains (e.g., becoming national champion at 14 years old, winning the yearly competitions, promoted to national level) which literally feels like you’re on top of the world.
I am very much goal driven. I need a goal to start with, from there I work my way back to the beginning so I know exactly where to start and from there I work my way toward my goal. I’m usually restless and I’m sometimes struggling to actually stop. Always thinking, taking action and on the move, testing and applying ideas. Figuring out what works and replicating it, and what doesn’t, changing my approach until it delivers a positive outcome.
Whatever it takes
I can quite easily drop everything and literally do whatever it takes to make sh*t happen. Being clear on my vision, I define a pathway, with a clear destination point so I can quickly take corrective action if I go off track and get back on course.
I can truly say I have a winning mentality. A winning mentality starts with a positive attitude. It’s about having a can do / will do mentality. The ability to take ownership of your own life, purpose, goals, aspirations and make them happen, and the ability to get back up when you get knocked down in pursuit of those goals. You truly got to believe you can do it.
I’m very competitive. I simply always want to be better than someone else. And in a competitive world, there is no such thing as standing still. People are always actively moving forward and standing still really means you’re falling behind.
When the dutchieness comes out
Dutchies are usually quite well known as direct/straightforward. I’m probably even more extreme in that. During my volleyball career I’ve expressed my anger or disagree with people quite openly. In the heat of the moment, there is no time to go around it. You say exactly what you want to say, deal with it, and you move forward. That’s also something that happened to me if someone was not so happy with my performance. I’m not saying I’m shouting and being angry all the time. I just prefer to say it as it is, and I also prefer to have people around me like that. My volleyball career exaggerated that.
Throughout the years I’ve been under all sorts of pressure. Winning games, becoming national champion, playing and winning tournaments, being the key player in the team, becoming the best player of a tournament. I’m performing very well under high pressure. Probably even better compared to no pressure at all.
Throughout the years, I often just shut up and put the work in. Because as a volleyball player you can say whatever you want, but if you don’t do it, you’re not getting anywhere. So I simply just worked hard, to show off. Shutting up comes with the advantage of looking at people. I’m very much a monkey see, monkey do, because that’s how I usually worked stuff out in volleyball techniques. I was not the biggest talent in volleyball techniques (just got to be honest) but I managed to look at what other people were doing and pick out the necessary things and make myself a better player. It doesn’t have to look pretty, as long as it works the way I want.
Watching people, or maybe better observing people (I’m not stalking!) gives me a lot of people’s knowledge. I have the ability to observe people, to read people. I see a lot of what’s going on. A lot of stuff from what people don’t even know of, not even aware of, but what I notice. This often helped me adjust my behaviour as I could see people being uncomfortable, or having something else on their mind for example. Observing people gave me a lot of knowledge about people’s characteristics and I often observe stuff before other people do. It really makes me much more a people person. But it’s also a weakness, always being aware of is and decide whether to adjust my behaviour to someone elses expectations. It can also be exhausting, picking up on all sorts of extra information, and let the brain process that all the time, but I kinda found my way to deal with that.
One of the reasons for writing this down is because often I feel misunderstood by people. I have different opinions or thoughts, and I express them. This is not always easy for employers and/or colleagues. By writing this down I organise and structure a bit more of who I am and what I do in my head, and by sharing it will hopefully help me somehow in the future. Or maybe even someone who’s reading this, realizing that they’re not on their own.