If you’ve attended a leadership course or seminar, chances are you’ve heard of Simon Sinek. According to his website bio, he’s “a visionary thinker with rare intellect.” Frankly, it’s intimidating! However, his message is strong — do the things that inspire you. When I chose to pursue my Certified Park and Recreation Professional certification, I asked myself, “What is my why?” Did it make me a more attractive candidate for jobs? Sure. Was it going to teach me something new? Absolutely. Did I like being able to put letters behind my name? Who doesn’t?
But my why, like many park and recreation professionals, went beyond resumes and letters. It was about making a difference.
My “why” goes back to Memorial Park in my hometown of Brush, Colorado, a community of only about 3,000 at the time. Having a family reunion in the community building and shelter. Digging in the pea gravel in the playground. Going to the community pool on Tuesday afternoons and swimming with my buddies, then heading over to the ballfields and seeing how many times we could almost hit a home run…with tennis balls. We made some lifelong, maybe even life-altering, memories at Memorial Park. Even more memories were made when I grew up and worked for Brush Parks & Recreation, my first job outside of the farm. The International Music Festival, running softball and baseball tournaments and organizing concerts in the park, sitting in the green grass on a Thursday evening.
Why become a CPRP? To provide someone, somewhere, at some time, experiences like I had as a kid and young adult right in the community I serve — and learn to do it better. That was my why.
Becoming a CPRP meant I was going to become part of a group of professionals that truly believes in what they are doing and keeps each other accountable to our profession of serving others. That group of people shares their experiences, their successes, their failures and it makes us remember why we do what we do. It didn’t just expand my knowledge and open opportunities for advancement, but it gave me a network that I can rely on and encourage me to continue to be a lifelong learner. Becoming a CPRP is a commitment to challenging yourself constantly so that you can always be at your best. Every challenge is worth it, driving your why.
So if you’re considering becoming a CPRP and you’re dreading the studying or the test, stop. Remember your why. Your why is going to outmuscle any fear or distress you may have. As you progress in your career, there will be roadblocks. There will be a difficult project you have to manage or a program you can’t make work, grass you can’t make grow or a pump you can’t fix, but since you are part of a network of professionals who serve with purpose, you can now tap into that network. There will never be a problem that you can’t solve — not just because you took the test and succeeded, but because you have dedicated yourself to continued learning and are applying that knowledge every day.
So, find your why. Inspire yourself. Inspire others.
I leave you with this video that out of the 6 million-plus views, I account for at least 10 percent. I watch it whenever I am feeling like I’ve lost sight of my why in challenging times.
Luke Bolinger, CPRP, is the Community Partnership & Special Projects Manager for the Town of Erie Parks & Recreation Department in Colorado. Learn more and connect with Luke via his LinkedIn page.