From Exercise Science to the ACS, by Jackson Miller
- If understanding the journey of how an exercise scientist and health enthusiast previously unknowing of the use of iCloud found himself on both the ACS Emerging Professionals Committee and Gold Coast Chapter is of interest, then read on! Or, if you want to learn about an impact-driven mental health tech start-up destined to address global mental health challenges while meaningfully connecting the world (plus a potential career opportunity 😉), I'd also suggest you stick around…
Twelve months ago, while walking to meet with Beau Tydd, Chairperson of the Queensland State Executive committee, I received a Snapchat from one of my best mates. I opened it and saw what would appear entirely normal at a glance: a loosely smiling face, some words continuing our conversation and a bit of his local environment captured in the corner of the photo. But it wasn't, by any means, an ordinary selfie.
See, a few recent experiences and some innate intuition had made me hyper-vigilant - an attitude which proved critical when, upon closer inspection, I saw a (huge) pile of painkillers hidden in the corner of the photo... My heart rate rose. So I picked up the phone and called him.
What was I meant to say?
Fumbling, I asked, "How are you?"
"Good," he said. "How are you?"
"Good, thank you. What have you done today?"
"Just work," he said. "How about you?"
An ordinary conversation continued.
See, two months earlier, the same mate had called me; extremely distressed - and I became his support person. Thankfully, we worked to overcome his suicidal ideation, but it was hard. I'm not a psychologist, and I didn't know or have any idea what I should say. I was utterly terrified I'd make things worse. And I was struggling myself, trying to figure out where my future was heading and trying to keep myself afloat with my extensive commitments. I was 18, studying full time and preparing for post-grad Med school, working three part-time gigs, volunteering in 7 unique capacities and training to run ultra-marathons, all the while living away from home for the first time. It was, as you'd likely appreciate, challenging. And even though I was supporting others going through very similar challenges to myself, I still didn't feel comfortable asking for help myself.
When reflecting upon this combination of circumstances, two very apparent and devastatingly consequential problems emerged:
- The inability to support others who we dearly want to support;
- A failure to ask for the help we need.
So, I drastically pivoted not just the direction of my study but also the mindset of my career approach; what was "to help people" became "to help people help people". This reframing was crucial to try and multiply my potential positive impact.
When reflecting upon the support strategies I had used to support my friends and family, voice recordings tailored to what they were experiencing emerged as a critical tool. I realised the unparalleled power of tech to connect us when used appropriately and acknowledged voice as the most impactful tool to do so meaningfully. So I knew what I wanted to develop - I just needed to figure out how…
The next step proved to be asking the right questions of the right people and drinking a lot of coffee while doing so… In this process, I asked Beau for a coffee. When we met, Beau introduced me to invaluable new connections in Sarah Hughes and David Rees, who now form part of vybu's advisory board, and also to Zac Isaac, Chair of the ACS Emerging Professionals Committee (EPC).
I was perplexed when Beau and Zac offered me a place on the EPC. Me? Someone who has never written a line of code nor figured out how to sync iCloud across my phone and computer? They thought I could add value, and, putting my hesitation aside, I said yes!
Since then, I've offered my 'start-up' perspective to the dynamic committee and learnt a lot, but I have, more importantly, met incredible people with whom I can't wait to further collaborate in the future. I was recently asked to form part of the ACS Gold Coast Chapter. I am so excited to further contribute to the future direction of the ACS, and I am so grateful for the unpredictable opportunities which can only be uncovered and experienced by saying yes!
Ultimately, if there are three things I hope you can take away from what I have shared about my recent journey, they are:
- Check-in with your friends, family and loved ones; maybe there's someone you haven't spoken to for a while. A great start is asking, "How are you, really?" And make sure the response given is an emotion!
- Curiosity compensates for competency; coffee is a perfectly curated opportunity to cultivate this collaboration! Further, you need a great reason to say no to an opportunity (Credit to Brian Finn, past Chairman and CEO of IBM, for this gem!)
- If I, as an Exercise scientist, can jump in and attempt to hold my own in a room filled with brilliant, intelligent and fast-moving technical experts, then you can have a crack at whatever is holding you back!
If you're interested in hearing more about an opportunity with vybu and helping to drive our vision for a better and more meaningfully connected world, I'd love to speak further.
If I can help you, or if we can help each other, please get in touch via LinkedIn.
Please know support is available 24/7 via Lifeline's 13 11 14 crisis support service. Anyone in Australia can speak to a trained Crisis Supporter over the phone, any time of the day or night.
ACS QLD Emerging Professionals Committee