PYL Series: Konnor Fleming

by: Konnor Fleming

I have a pretty love-hate relationship with the idea that everything happens for a reason. If I’m being totally honest, I think that 98% of the time it’s the most convenient fall-back in the books. But 2% of the time, it’s the only thing that keeps you going. And, funnily enough, it’s that 2% of the time that has the greatest impact on your life.

If you had asked me on November 7th, 2010 what I was going to do for college, I would have told you I would be going somewhere in New England, staying close to home (shoutout Vermont – 802). I would have told you I’d be playing college football, most likely at Middlebury College or Wesleyan University, and coming home to visit my family and friends once or twice a month. I would have told you I’d be doing exactly what I had been planning to do my entire life up to that point.

Then…November 8th happened, and I tore my ACL in a playoff football game. At the time, I thought my life came crashing to a halt. Reconstructive surgery was necessary – eight to ten months estimated recovery. Any chance of a college football scholarship? Yeah, right. Coaches severed ties faster than the helmet severed my tendon, and I was becoming more and more certain I’d never step onto a football field again.

But amidst everything crashing down, there was still one staff that believed in me – the Fighting Scots of Macalester College. “We’re recruiting you not so you will contribute on the field your first year,” they told me, “but for your character. We’re rebuilding this program, and we want you to be a part of that.”

So I bit. I came out to MN, visited, and fell in love. I was taken with the team, the organization, the people, the campus, all of it. I applied, was accepted, and enrolled in the Macalester College Class of 2015. The Twin Cities have been my home away from home ever since.

Those four years changed my life in more ways than I can count, and I am forever grateful for every person, every experience that went into them. “Four more years!” jokes aside, I honestly believe that attending Macalester College is one of the best things that has ever happened in my life.

All thanks to a torn ACL. I mean, everything happens for a reason, right?

Fast forward, February of 2016. I had already applied for, started at, and quit my first job out of college – a standardized test administrator was, if you can believe it, not my ideal gig. I stepped back and asked myself: what are my core passions, and how can I make a living off of them? Two things came immediately to mind – my love for athletics, and my desire to make people’s lives better. And, psychology degree firmly in hand, I ended up as low-level management at Nike in the Mall of America.

This job was…fine. Albeit less directly than I wanted to be doing it, I was 1: surrounded by sports and athletics all the time, and 2: making people’s lives better through the medium that was footwear, apparel, accessories, etc. Passions fulfilled, right? Meh. I convinced myself they were, but I knew all along something was missing; this wasn’t what I was going to do with my life.

And it was fine until October, when on one fateful Sunday I decided to go for a walk around the mall. No intentions, no agenda, just time to kill and America’s largest indoor mall to do it in. Said walk led me to the first floor, where one lululemon happens to be located. I popped in, thinking I could, if nothing else, do some competitive intel. Shortly after walking in, I began a conversation with one of the employees there. That conversation? You guessed it – changed my life.

Let me set the scene for you real quick. Surrounded by men’s clothing, we were both leaning on a fixture when we introduced ourselves to each other and got to talking. About nothing in particular, to start – plans for the weekend, what that day had been spent doing – but eventually it lead to discussion of work, and specifically working in retail. We agreed that retail sucks when you think about it as retail, and that there’s a special magic to it when you think of it not as selling merchandise, but improving people’s lives. That’s when the life changing started happening.

“Dude, you should work here.”

I…I’m sorry…what did he just say?

“No, I’m serious. You should work here. There’s a group interview in 15 minutes, and you should come with.”

Okay, I’m sorry – WHAT DID HE JUST SAY!?

…I went. And a few days later I got an email inviting me to a follow-up interview. They told me we were going to be doing a workout, then going into another room to do some more questions. All they said was to bring clothes to workout in, a water bottle, and to show up at 8:00am that Saturday at this address:

246 9th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401.

You might know it by another title: Alchemy North Loop.

October 11th, 2016. 40 Minute A10 with Katy Keane (yeah – throwback). First Alchemy class was officially in the books, and needless to say I was hooked. Sure, I didn’t have any idea I was doing through nearly ALL of the yoga. Yeah, maybe I did stop once I finished the whole chalkboard because I was thought I was done with the workout – I’ll never forget Katy telling me, “No no, sweetheart. You have to keep going.” It wasn’t the prettiest A10 of all time, but DAMN was it a workout. I felt something I hadn’t felt in quite some time – I felt alive.

All stemming from a random walk around the mall, a sporadic decision to stop into lulu, and a whole lot of serendipity. Maybe everything does happen for a reason after all.

And now…well, now, here we are. Through all of life’s twists and turns, I’ve ended up somewhere that fulfills all my passions and allows for me to make people’s lives better each and every day. I’m quite literally living the dream – all thanks to a torn ACL and a happenstance conversation inside of a lululemon. It’s funny, really, how that 2% ends up changing your life.

The more I think about “everything happens for a reason” the more I come to terms with the idea that it is what you make of it; for all the crazy life-turns that I’ve undergone, I could have just as easily NOT rehabbed and trained to play college football, just as easily said NO I don’t want to go to this interview. But, because I believed those things would be the best things for my life, I pursued them. And, from that pursuit, my greatest dreams have emerged and have come true.

Ultimately, as with anything else, your life is what you make of it. Whatever situation you’re presented with, if you believe good will come and the best is waiting for you then it likely will be. From intentions to actions, give everything you’ve got towards doing what’s best, and everything else will find a way.

Everything happens for a reason? Yeah, sure. But these days, I prefer to think of it another way: Pursue Your Legend.

Konnor is a coach at Alchemy Northeast. He’s guaranteed to make your day, and we’re not just saying that – he’s known for his inspirational cheers during his classes. In his free time he’s living it up on the softball field or living it up with his acapella group.

[The PYL Series highlights individuals that don’t just tolerate discomfort to purse their legend, they anticipate and embrace it. Knowing what you want, and knowing that you’ll do anything and overcome all obstacles to achieve it is not easy, but it is the only way to reach your own legend. Pursue it vigorously, and the universe will conspire to help you achieve yours too.]