Friday, August 5, 2011

On The Court

What stops you?  Most times it’s the discomfort we feel when confronted with a challenge that we’d rather not face.  Often those challenges are really very good things, there to shake us up and make us grow, but we may not see it that way, and so we get uncomfortable and back away.  One of my favorite quotes about stepping out of your comfort zone and living life in the open is this:  To the world, you may only be one person, but to one person, you may be the world. There's a very funny thing that happens when we decide to get out of the viewing stands of life and get on the court to play ball; people already in the game want to play with us, and those still stuck behind have the choice to stay behind or get inspired.

As a person who spent most of my youth perfectly content to sit on the sidelines and watch the game of life play out in front of me, it was just as easy to resent the players, and make them wrong for playing the way they did.  But after my transformation to a person at cause in my life, not always on the 'effect' side of life, I began to take risks with personal interaction – getting out of my shy box, and actually starting a conversation (something I always dreaded). Small moves socially at first led to larger, more bold interactions, follow ups, and eventually networking, and before I knew it, I was on the court, playing with the big boys (and big girls!)

Here’s the key:  There's only one difference between you and someone just like you who may have more success in the same area where you struggle:  The successful person believes they have a right to achieve their goals no matter what – this is what gives them that competitive edge, that passion.  

I want you think of someone in your life, or that you are aware of, that is successful.  Now answer these questions:  Do they have a firm grasp of their own abilities? Do they ignore the fear of what others think?  Do they always seem to know in their heart that they belong where they are?   If you answered “Yes” to those questions, then you’re thinking of someone who has the edge on knowing themselves and their power.  Now… ask yourself the same questions.  Do you answer “Yes” each time?  If not, what will it take to get you there?

Here are 3 tips to get you in the “Yes” column in your life:

1.  Find your passion.  We all have something we’re great at.  If you haven’t found your thing yet, ask your best friend, ask your family members, They know you probably better than you know yourself.  Interview them on your strengths, what they love about you, and where they see you acting at your best.  Chances are you already know what you were meant to do, but haven’t found the strength to pursue it.  I was lost in my career until I realized that helping others is what I do best – I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, helping my grandfather deliver Meals On Wheels. It took me a while to realize that I could do it on a grand scale with massive results, and I’ve never been happier.

2.  Believe.  Believe.  Believe.  I know it can be hard to be led if it is you that you're following, but you have to believe that you are worth the successful outcome, or you will always end up back in the stands. When you’re talking with your friends and family about how they see you and your strengths, listen for the compliments as well.  Friends and family are the perfect mirror for us to see where we shine and where we can improve.  A mentor or coach would be a great help in this area as well.

3. Take Action.   Take all that pent up fear that holds you back and use positive actions to point yourself in the right direction.  If you can imagine what might go wrong if you take a risk, then you can also imagine what can go right!  Remember, courage is acting in the face of fear.  For me as a shy person, I had to simply begin talking to people at parties, in crowds, at games, etc.  I knew if I was going to up my game, then I had to make the first move and get uncomfortable! Now I can engage with anyone and not fear that first contact.

At the end of the day, the only thing that stops us is ourselves.  But ask yourself what’s worse; the discomfort of stretching ourselves to see how far and fast we can improve, or the more comfortable, but non-rewarding inaction?  I think you already know the answer to that one.

"Know yourself, don't NO yourself" 

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