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Surround yourself with people who challenge you to be better

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For the past couple of weeks, the same question has surfaced with every interaction I have had with former classmates, friends and members of the community who have grown to know me through the newspaper — Am I happy I moved back to Iowa?

I could give a simple answer of yes or no, but the complexity of the question cannot be justified with a one-word response.

While the question addresses my preference of location between Iowa or my experiences in Texas, California and the East Coast, it also challenges me to think about what truly makes me happy.

I reserve the right to change my answer once the snow starts flying and my friends in Texas send me pictures by the pool, but I am happy I made the move back to Iowa and this is why:

Despite the crazy hours and constant change of pace in the newspaper business, I really enjoy my job and the people I work with on a daily basis. While I am still working through some growing pains as a new reporter at a daily paper, I am also taking every opportunity to learn from the veterans on staff.

I also enjoy being closer to family. It is nice to be able to steal leftovers and raid the cupboards while waiting for another load of laundry to finish. This is the first time in five years I will be home to celebrate my father’s birthday today — hopefully my presence counts as my present this year.

Coaching has always been a dream of mine and moving back to Iowa gave me the opportunity to coach at Southwestern Community College. While not every day has been easy, the relationships I have built with athletes, coaches and SWCC faculty and staff have been worth the pressures associated with coaching.

I also credit SWCC for a lot of the opportunities and connections I made that allowed me to travel the country and build life experiences. It is nice to have a chance to do the same for college freshmen and sophomores.

All of these things make me happy, but they all contain a common theme — individuals who are positive and challenge me to be a better person.

I feel the mentality with young adults is trending away from wanting a challenge. Not only does this have an impact on the quality of work that gets accomplished, it alters relationships you have with coworkers and individuals in your personal life.

Bill Bowerman, Oregon’s legendary coach and Nike’s co-founder, describes it well from the perspective of preparing for a race, “If you go out to race, and you know you’ll lose, there’s no probability involved. You’ll lose. But if you go out knowing you will never give up, you’ll still lose most of the time, but you’ll be in the best position to kick from on that rare day when everything breaks right.”

Iowa has put me in the best position to surround myself with people who challenge me to be better every day, and I couldn’t be happier to have that influencing my life for when my next break comes.

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