What’s the size of a baseball, the weight of a grapefruit and can knock you to the ground at 50 mph?
My beau, Dan, was an all-star lacrosse player in high school and college and has been playing the game since he was a kid, he still plays. One of my favorite stories he tells is also one of the best analogies to how we deal with failure, rejection or when we are confronted by something that stops us in our tracks.
When you’re a kid first learning to play the game and you get hit with a lacrosse ball you feel like you’ve been sucker punched my Mohamed Ali – you’re out of the game. Out as in you don’t return because you’ve been carried off the field, doubled over in insane pain hiding the tears from Coach and your team mates. As you grow a bit older (and bigger) and get hit by the ball, the game stops, the ref and Coach come running onto the field to check things out, you walk it off, sit out a few plays – maybe you go back in, maybe you don’t. Usually though, you’re back at practice the next day.
When you’ve been playing as long as Dan has and you see the ball screaming towards you at 70 mph you now know your best defense is to tighten and flinch, take the hit and keep running. You know you’ll have a bruise that lasts a week but nothing about the pain stops you – you’ve experienced it many times before and will many times again. When you learn that the hit doesn’t require emergency attention and that continuing to move forward actually makes it feel better, there is no need to stop. Besides, you’re a valuable player and this could be game point.
How many times have we taken a hit –worse than a lacrosse ball to the gut or as stinging as a Thanks, But No Thanks letter – and we get stopped? We’re out of the game, licking our wounds, contemplating whether to return or not. I love this analogy because it fits well into how we as humans deal with rejection, failure or when confronted by something that stops us from moving forward.
From my own experience I’ve learned that the more I fail, am rejected, or confronted the higher my level of confidence and the less time spent on the side lines. Yes I still fail, often get stuck when confronted, and feel the smarts to be rejected, but I no longer wallow, pout or hide. I flinch, take the hit and keep moving. It’s not to say that I ignore the pain or distance myself from the emotional hurt, I am in touch with the process of moving through that: I just don’t let it take me out of the game for long, if at all.
The more we play in the game of life, the more we’re going to get hit by the ball. And the more we get hit by the ball, the more we learn that it doesn’t stop what we’re doing. Learning this and applying it shapes our character, the two most important aspects being leadership and confidence. Combined they are two qualities that draw people to you such that you’re noticed, admired and respected. However, the best way to increase your level in one or both is to keep getting hit by the ball. Play a bigger game and the reward is an increased awareness of your own leadership and confidence.
When you have the confidence to keep going in the face of failure, your playing field gets bigger and getting hit by the ball no longer means the end of the game.
Looking to get back into the game? Want to learn to take the hit and keep playing? You’re in luck, Career Leadership Coaching is offering a limited time only coaching package of two coaching sessions for $99. Sessions will focus on where you get stopped and how to get back into action. Click here to register and get back into the game today!