Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Correction: Ball Was Good

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...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Attacked By Intimidation

Well, we're back in the game and we're done chatting about YOU!  Well, sorta!

It's time to take a peek at the way other people on your court influence you and your game.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that you might have felt intimidated by someone at some moment in your life.  Someone with a fancy career, a flashy title, a freekin' amazing body, a fantastically beautiful face, a fat wallet, or a ferociously brilliant talent.

It might be none of those...so if that's the case would you mind marinating for six seconds and letting me know when you've come up with something?!

Doooo do, dooo do, dooo dooo dooooo.
Doo, do, doo doo,
DO!
Do do do do do...

You ready!?

Phew, I dunno how many more Jeopardy "doo's" I coulda handled!

Alright, on we go...

The word intimidate means "to fill with fear."  Intimidation, we could say, is a "fear-inspiring" force.  It makes us feel threatened and scared, and causes our confidence level to crash!

This has been a serious struggle for me on the tennis court...well, not only on the court but it has snagged my attention lately!  I walk on the court to practice with a nationally ranked player and I can't get the ball inside the lines for love or money!  My mind and heart and body are so gripped by fear...everything goes into "freeze" mode.  It's as though normal communication channels between my body and brain have been cut...and nothing's working!  

Now I know what you're saying....

"What are you so afraid of girl??!!"  It's not even a real match, just practice!

Well, thanks for asking.  I've been doing a lotta digging.  I guess I could say....it's complicated!  I'm afraid that I'm not gonna measure up.  That I'm not good enough.  I'm afraid of being judged.  Afraid of being "less than"....

Jeeeeez, the secrets I gotta share with you to keep it real out here!

Anyway, what's so fascinating is that this intense fear causes my confidence and belief to plummet and hover around negative nine on a 1 to 10 scale. 

Seriously, it's amazing how we let other people's stature and / or game affect our game.  Why do we let people dictate the way we play?  When I have an opponent who's just pushing the ball back in to keep it safe, I find that I start playing that push-game too!  Aaargghhhh!  Why don't we play our attack game no matter who's on the other side of the net?

I'm working on that...I'll get back to ya! 

In the mean time, our attitude about our opponents in life provides some serious stats regarding our character and maturity.  Here's a little inventory...

Do you go into situations in your life hoping your opponents are no good so you can win easily? Do you secretly hope that they stumble so you can get ahead?  Do you hope that they make an error so you can have the win? 

Or...

Do you hope that your opponents are awesome and that they bring their best game so you can compete?  Do you embrace the challenge of a tough opponent knowing that you will strengthen yourself and improve your own game?  Do you play to win - and not just hope they lose?  Do you find joy in challenging situations?  Do you look for the treasure in your trials?

Just like beauty, intimidation is in the eye of the beholder.  No-one can make us feel intimidated....it's a condition that we allow ourselves to fall into.  I know, I just ended a sentence with a preposition.  That's punishable by detention in grade school but I am no longer intimidated by that. 

We have to start feeling like we belong...and if we don't feel it...we gotta fake it.  When we let our opponents sense that we have no confidence or belief, it's super easy to attack.  It happens on the tennis court and it happens constantly on the battlefield of your mind. 

Satan loves to attack you in your mind, which leads to an attack on your emotions.  He loves to weaken you by fear.  But one of the most profound things I've learned is that when you're under attack, you must get and stay on the attack

Even when you don't feel like you've got what it takes to attack, you put on your armor and get to work!  As I've said before... the way we feel cannot dictate the way we play.

"But how do we do that?' you ask...

Well, it's simple but it ain't easy.  We have to act that way by controlling our body language, by exercising emotional control, and by keeping a close watch on the thoughts we allow our mind to produce.

I know what you're thinking ....

"This sounds like a lotta work!!!  I just wanna relax and enjoy my life!"

And what can I say...you're right.  It is a lotta work.  More than you could ever imagine.  Sometimes it feels more painful to stay on the attack than to just give in to the attack.  But remember what the Marines say... pain is weakness leaving the body.

And finally, remember this the next time you're facing a tough opponent of any nature...

We want happy.  God wants holy. 
We want comfort.  God wants character.
We want circumstances changed.  God wants us changed.

And God's will can never be overturned....ever.

"You can make many plans but the Lord's purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:21

zenthuze...on a mission...