Somewhere in the middle innings of a TMYBA softball game this season, #13 decides to square up for a bunt.
No sign had been given. To be honest, this coach is not even sure what that sign would be. No matter. Getting the “go ahead” wasn’t ever a consideration. It never even crossed her mind.
She laid it down, dropping it just along the first base line. An excessive smidge of “English” made it b-a-r-e-l-y curl foul. Peering though the face mask on her helmet, she glanced towards me at first base, with that sort of Alfred E. Neuman “What – Me Worry?” look, yet, beaming about her effort.
The failed attempt was quickly erased by another reassuring smile on her face that plainly said: “What’s the worst that could happen?”.
Later on in the same game, a pop up launched somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle of the infield between the mound, short stop and second brought #13 careening towards the ball. After nearly plucking it out of the air, about an inch from the top of her shoe laces, her momentum carried her – dupa over tea kettle. By some miracle, balance overcame gravity and she ended up in a position to at least attempt to make some sort of play. Pure slap stick – but another example of giving it everything she had, guided by an attitude of “what’s the worst that could happen?”
In that game, and in many others to follow, she was always determined to make not just a play – but the play. Whether it was in the field, on the base paths, or in the batter’s box, she was going to make something happen.
The reckless abandon #13 exuded in her efforts this season made a clear statement about her singular approach to playing the game. More importantly she was providing an example for all about the essence of competing.
Not so much the competition that exists between opponents on a field of play and makes the game – “a game”.
But rather, the competition that occurs from within; the willingness to continually challenge oneself to go beyond boundaries of comfort, belief and ability.
That inner drive that can ultimately transform the person into a player. A player into a standout. A standout into a master.
The quest not to simply make the play, but to become the one that can make the plays: plural.
Far too often, in the relative safety of your athletic, scholarly or artistic pursuits, you tend to keep yourself reined in, preferring to stay within your comfort zone, rarely ever pushing out to the fence line of what you believe you can do. Apparently, an acceptance of your perceived “limitations” is more palatable than finding out what you really have within you – to see if you have the ability to make not just a play, but the play.
In one sense, this really isn’t so much about the fear of the unknown.
The possibility of failure is always real and forever a part of the internal calculus one performs when thought is about to lead to action. To a certain extent, these calculations can become a self-fulfilling and defeating attitude that usually explains and excuses a less than stellar performance and outcome with, “I thought that would happen”, or “I knew it wouldn’t work”.
Maybe it isn’t the prospect of failure that creates this inertia.
More likely than not, it could just be that you are really more fearful of success.
For with a higher level of performance and accomplishment comes with it a benchmark, a higher level of continual expectations and much, much greater visibility.
No longer will it simply suffice for you to make the play. It will be incumbent on you to make the plays: plural.
Perhaps it is the fact that when you do make the play – the unknown you truly fear is “Can I handle being in the spotlight once my performance, achievement and success make me stand out.”
And then; “Will I ever be able to make it happen again?”
It is far easier, safer and more comfortable to fly under the radar, to exist in the periphery and in the shadows of others brilliance.
But why shouldn’t you shine too?
Why couldn’t you shine?
If you decided to generate some of your own brilliance, think about it.
“What’s the worst that could happen?”