I’m a deep thinker and this is how I find my balance
People who know me well know that I put a big emphasis on balancing football with my personal life.
That’s something that I’ve got better at managing as time has gone on, but it’s always been intrinsic to me to try and be as well-rounded as I can be.
Growing up, I always played sport, but from a young age it was ingrained in me to not put all my eggs in one basket. Whether that was playing footy, or having a social life, or spending time with friends and family, or studying. Having a purpose and a passion away from the field is an aspect of my life I’ve always tried to put time towards.
The reward came with earning my Bachelor of Health Sciences degree, after seven long years of hitting the books.
Having finished that chapter, my next challenge is moving towards a Masters of Business Administration at Melbourne Business School.
As a professional AFL player, having something to focus on away from the game has enabled me to really launch straight in when it’s time to lock on and do football stuff, on or off the field.
I don’t get my priorities twisted, though: my day job is to be the best football player I can be for my team and my friends and family. But as I’ve gotten older – especially this year as I’ve had a battle with injury – I’ve been able to appreciate even more how important those things away from the game are, particularly when things aren’t going the way you thought they would.
An update on my injury.
Love, BG x
— Brodie Grundy (@brodiegrundy) August 8, 2022
In the case of my injury, I’ve found this year, more so than any other, having things away from the game to balance me has been really important.
Part of that balance is trying to be my full authentic self, whatever form that takes. Whether I’m playing on the MCG in front of 80,000 or in a lecture theatre with ten other people, it’s the same Brodie Grundy who turns up.
I’ve had some humbling experiences walking into those lecture theatres and not knowing where to sit – just like I was starting at a football club all over again!
I’m a curious person, and I like learning and experimenting, whether that’s while playing for Collingwood or Melbourne, or immersing myself in different interests like studying or travelling or learning about different cultures.
That journey is what it’s all about: staying curious, discovering, and learning about yourself along the way.
I’ve always had a strong support network around me that comes from all walks of life and keeps me grounded. I’ve been encouraged to have a breadth of experiences in my life, and that helps put things into perspective when things are good, and understand that when they’re bad they’re never as bad as they seem.
I think people misconstrue, because of my studies and who I am, that I’ve got it all figured out. Actually, the more and more I do, the further away I get from actually knowing what’s going on, and what I want to do going forward.
People look at me and think that because I’m always busy I know where I’m going. But my studies are as much about me satisfying that curiosity so that by the time I finish playing footy, it can ease the transition into life afterwards.
It’s important to understand that just because I spend time on things away from the game, it doesn’t take away my desire to be the best footballer I can be.
That comes first and foremost – but I’m a deep thinker, and I think about the long-term trajectory of what life is like when I’m not playing.
To have something in the immediate term for me, in football, something that I’m passionate about and that I happen to be good at, has been an enormous blessing, and it’s something that I never take for granted. While life outside has been a great way for me to take my mind off footy at times, especially this year as I’ve dealt with a few challenges, it’s worked the other way around as well.
When I feel like I’m putting too much weight on one area, I realise that it’s not that one is more important than the other, but they all need to have their moments. When I’m at the club, for example, I want to be as present and immersed in what I’m doing there as anything else. That’s what I need to do for my day-to-day.
Then, when I’m away from there, I try and totally switch off, get away from it, and really sink into the other things I have going on. That’s how I try to get that balance.
During my time at the Magpies, running around the oval at the Holden Centre, overlooking the city, it was an amazing place to come and work, especially when the team went as well as they did in 2022. When the Australian Open’s on in the summer, or footy finals are on, there’s a real buzz around the city as well.
It’s an exciting time. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a part of it on-field for the Magpies during September, but I was just like every other Collingwood supporter and just getting amongst it. It’s a great time of year.
I’m sure a lot of Pies fans are probably reading this and wondering what it is about Craig McRae that had a real impact on the group in such a short time.
I’ve really enjoyed both Craig and Nathan Buckley as coaches during my time at Collingwood; but the thing that sticks out for Craig is that he’s a level-headed, process-driven leader. He puts a big emphasis on watering what you want to grow.
We’ve often used the theme of focusing this year, and he’s someone that really focuses on the present and doesn’t project forward. He’s conscious of not dwelling too much on failures and reframing those as a learning experience. That’s what you’re seeing from the team in the tight moments throughout this year.
Any ambitious, competitive person, which I am, will also set goals and high standards for themselves. I’m no different to that; I just happen to do those across varying components of my life.
“If you show enough of yourself and you humanise yourself for long enough people get to see the real you and that’s what I’ve tried to do.”
— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) July 28, 2021
Whether it’s study or football or whatever you do, having people around you that help level you and keep you grounded is as important as anything. That’s probably the biggest thing for me.
When I finish up with footy and move on to the next chapter, I’d like to be known as an authentic person that was well-rounded and went about his life in a way that helped people and treaded on things lightly. I suppose just being someone who my kids want to spend time with is the short and plain of it.
They probably won’t care if I was a good football player – they probably care that I’m there for them and support them, and through my experiences can shape their lives.
Part of being a professional footballer is the amazing platform that we get to try and affect change and be a positive role model to the community. I don’t want to do that in a grandiose way: I just try and do that by being myself, and hopefully that encourages other people to be their own authentic selves as well.
To any young person reading this, or even someone a little older looking to jump into part-time study – don’t be overawed if you feel like you don’t know what you want to do and where you want to end up. It happens to everyone. I don’t necessarily know what the end goal is – hopefully, I’ll have a better idea in a few years’ time when I finish up playing footy!
I think the statistic is that people change careers six or seven times in a lifespan, so it’s never a finished product. If you want to study, whether you do it full-time or have to balance a work life around it like I do, just throw yourself into it. If you’re thinking about doing it, it’s probably because you want to do it.
Don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back. Studying is such a good learning experience, and you’ll learn as much about yourself as anything along the way.
Just be open, but remember: if not now, if you’re thinking of putting it off, you probably won’t end up doing it.
If you can try and find a way to balance it all, especially part-time, this is probably the best time to do it, too. The hybrid nature of how things are working since COVID has been a great way to achieve that balance for me. Hopefully, it can for you too.
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