A tennis ball doesn't seem like anything too special, but when you crack it open...you find an entire life of wisdom in it. The ball is fascinating because it shows you exactly what you're doing - and not doing!
Lemme let you in a little...
When I started getting serious about tennis a few months ago, I had to digest this coaching list:
- You're hunched over, you gotta stand up straight
- You're letting the ball push you around
- You gotta stand your ground
- You're hitting too early
- Wait for the ball
- You're too tight
- You're rushing
- You're being impatient
- Don't hack at the ball
- You need to caress, feel the ball
- Dance around the ball and create your zone
- Wait for it to come in to your zone
- You gotta get physical on the ball
- You gotta miss a lot before you make a lot
Uggghh. Ultimate body blow!
Now, before we dive into this list...lemme just tell you in case you haven't noticed....it ain't easy for us humans to want to hear what we don't want to hear. Are you with me?
Okay, check it out...
It's like you going up to someone and saying, "Please, please, tell me everything that's wrong with me. No really, I mean it."
If you haven't tried that...I'll just tell you that it's bbbbrrrruuuuutttal. Our ego gets super lit up and says things like, "how dare you freekin' insult me and pull me down like that!" It gets so riled up...it's ready to jump that dude!!
Seriously though, when you take back the wheel from your ego, and tell it to hop in the back seat...something amazing happens. You open yourself to a level of growth, improvement, maturity and transformation that has the potential to change your life...forever.
But, most of us miss out on such opportunities 'cos we're so busy trying to hide our shortfalls. Nobody even wants to use the word "weakness" or "limitation"...instead opting for the corporate classic "areas for improvement."
I'm telling you...these days everyone just wants to hear and speak of cake and ice-cream, but people die from that diet, yo!!! What is needed is a little braised brussel sprouts and cooked cabbage to create a little more life!
Okay, that's done...now we're back to the coaching list.
I'll be straight with you...I got ROCKED when I was pummeled with those "attacking" words. Not only because it felt like I was doing everything wrong on the tennis court, but also because it mirrored a style that I was using to play my life off the court.
I was hunching over, not standing up straight and standing my ground. I was always rushing to strike at the ball because I was afraid of missing it...afraid I'd miss my opportunity! I was hitting every ball hard and harder and couldn't find a lower gear...the ability to play looser, with more feel. I wasn't dancing around the ball and creating a comfortable hitting zone...suitable for me. I was getting played by the ball. I would take body blows instead of getting outta the way and punching back! And, I sure wasn't getting physical on the ball...I wasn't getting my whole body into the shot. And finally, I didn't want to miss a ball, I didn't want to have to make mistakes...I wanted winners! All the time!
What I realized is that I was...delusional! I know I'll never play a perfect match. I'll never live a life free from errors. And neither will you, buttercup!
The thing is, we have to learn to manage adversity. What do you do when the ball you hit lands up in the net, or ricochets outta the court? You can either berate yourself, which makes you play worse and causes negativity and doubt and fear to creep in.
Or, you can use it as a teachable moment. "Oops, I guess I must have moved my head too soon on that shot...I'll know for next time." And then choose to move forward to the next ball.
And when you get stuck in a "dip"...when your game is totally off...you gotta remember...DON'T PANIC!! Keep hitting until your game comes around again! And it will...if you patiently endure.
So the final point is this: there will always be conditions in your environment that mess up the game you'd planned! There might be a gust of wind that takes the ball outta your zone. Raindrops might start to fall on your court - making the ground slippery. The sun might be blinding you. Shadows across the court might blur your vision. A bird might fly overhead. Heck, a bee might sting you! And doggone it, a lines-person might call a ball out that you knew was totally in!!!
The funny thing is...none of that matters. You still have to play the game and do your best to get the ball in play. Our entire life comes down to distraction control and adversity management. It's that simple.
Each ball and each thought is a new one...not a string of many. We have the ability to choose, change, and reset. We gotta take the trash outta our minds, learn to stop our emotions from ruining our game, let our past go, accept mistakes as part of the process, and play the ball with all we got...even if it lands out...a seeming "failure"...because you never know when you'll be pleasantly surprised and hear the words, "correction, ball was good."
"He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding." Proverbs 15:32
zenthuze...on a mission...