As a kid, I completely sucked at all ball sports.
In baseball, I batted last and was always put in the outfield.
In basketball, I was the 11th player on the team. I only got put in when we were ahead by about 50 points.
In tennis, I never won a match.
Looking back as an adult, it has often perplexed me as to why I’d stuck with playing balls sports throughout my childhood. I’d dropped them once I got into things like BMX, skateboarding and martial arts, but why had I stuck with it for so many years before?
My parents didn’t ‘make’ me play sports. There was a genuine joy in it for me. But, I’ve often wondered, why did I enjoy it if I sucked so bad?
Recently, in conversation with my colleague and friend Simon Crowe, I accidentally rediscovered my joy for ball sports.
We were speaking about doing our work as coaches playfully. About having a sort of reckless abandon in our acts of creation.
As we spoke, I remembered being on the basketball court and the feeling of throwing the ball from the three point line.
I remembered that in basketball, I loved the feeling of magic and mystery as to what might happen to the ball once it left my hands and completed it’s arc.
In baseball, I had enjoyed the remote possibility of hitting a home-run or making a game saving catch BECAUSE it was so unlikely.
In tennis, I was mostly enamored with hitting the ball as hard as I could. What if it bounced off someone’s head? What if it went over the fence and into the road?
What struck me is that ball sports had filled me a spirit of freedom. I enjoyed the magical experience of uncertainty. When a ball left my hands or my racquet or my bat, I was dancing with destiny and I loved that dance.
I didn’t care so much about what happened, I was just enamored with the fact that SOMETHING was going to happen. The anticipation and the surprise of it was the part that gave me joy.
My joy in ball sports came from the reckless abandon.
After speaking with Simon, I drove straight to the sports store, bought myself a basketball and then walked down to the court in my neighborhood to shoot some hoops.
It felt amazing to reconnect with joy of reckless abandon. The joy of not knowing what was going to happen. The joy of doing something simply BECAUSE I had no idea what the result would be.
The act was about the mystery and magic and I loved it.
After a few days of going down to the court to shoot hoops, I also saw that the more I slowed down and focused on the end result of the ball going through the hoop, that sometimes the ball actually went in!
The trick was when I focused on what.
If I focused on the ball going in anytime AFTER it left my hands, then the joy of reckless abandon would begin leaving my body.
Standing at the line, holding the ball, getting ready to shoot – that was the time to focus.
The moment the ball left my hands, I returned my focus to the magic and the mystery. I returned to the joy of the dance with destiny.
I’ve found that being in reckless abandon at all times results in me being filled with joy, but also not creating any results.
Being focused on end results all the time gets me some of those results, but with little to no joy.
When I’m in the sweet spot – when I’m oscillating between focus on end result and a reckless abandon – I get to be filled with joy and create better and better results.
Where could you bring more reckless abandon into your life?
What would you do if you cared more about being surprised by the result than you did what actual result you would get?
What would your ‘Hail Mary’ shot be?
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