Looks like it’s been a few months since I’ve posted on this site. I guess I’ve been a little busy with my other 20 or so blogs.
Luckily today I came across a post called “Stop Sabotaging Your Own Success: A Manifesto” that really got me thinking and ready to share my own story.
The crux of the post for me is Don’t be afraid to try things you don’t think you can do.
As I read through the various quotes in the post, I remembered back to what I believe is one of the most pivotal choices I made back early in my college career. The choice itself was actually somewhat inconsequential. In fact, looking back the choice really seems like a quite simple and silly choice. It barely even resembles a choice, but for some reason I had an internal fear that doing this would be outside of my comfort zone.
The story starts back in college on a Saturday when I was bored and really wanted to get out and play some sports of some sort. I didn’t care what sport, I just wanted to get some exercise and sports adds that competitive ingredient which makes the exercise fun. I headed over to a park close by the University thinking I might be able to find a game of football, soccer, or maybe even some volleyball. None of those were found, but there was a group of people playing ultimate frisbee.
I remembered back to my childhood days where I’d played at least a couple games of ultimate frisbee and so I asked if I could join in. Turns out, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I figured I’d played ultimate frisbee before and that this wouldn’t be a big deal. Little did I know that this group really played ultimate frisbee. They could throw the frisbee in so many different ways including what I now know is called the forehand or flick. Plus, they had cleats and I was just wearing regular sneakers.
After thinking I could throw the frisbee deep each time I touched it, one of the other players kindly instructed me that I shouldn’t just huck the disc as far as I could each time I got it hoping that someone from my team might be lucky enough to get to wherever the frisbee might end up. Instead, I should be more patient and look for the “easy” throws that I knew I could make to my teammates. Even if that meant I was throwing a short one behind me to someone who could throw better than me.
Needless to say, I obviously wasn’t as good at ultimate frisbee as I thought I was when I asked to play. While we were sitting down at the end of the game, I overheard a couple of the people talking about an ultimate frisbee city league. I heard them talking about putting a team together. For some reason they didn’t ask me to be on their team. My ego assumes the team was full, but I imagine I might have gotten a request to play had I been more skilled at ultimate frisbee.
However, I must admit that I was intrigued that their was an ultimate frisbee city league. I’d never heard of such a thing and so after a quick online search (This was before it was called a Google search) I found the website for the ultimate frisbee city league. Turns out, they accepted team signups or individual signups.
I’d like to say that I just ignored this past experience and signed up. To be honest, I nearly “sabotaged myself.” I remember thinking that maybe I wasn’t good enough to play. I remember thinking that maybe they wouldn’t want me to play. I remember thinking that maybe I wouldn’t fit in. I remember thinking that maybe I’d sign up and they wouldn’t let me play. The idea of riding the bench didn’t sound like fun. Particularly if I used my poor college student money to sign up to play.
Despite these emotions, I signed up anyway. However, the emotions continued even on the first day I went to play in the opening game. I had no idea what to expect and I’d already learned that I had A LOT to learn about playing ultimate frisbee.
The AMAZING thing is that I went ahead and did it anyway. I’m a very calculated person that always made very calculated choices. However, this time the calculations didn’t necessarily add up and I went ahead and did it anyway.
Don’t ask me why, but for some reason before I signed up for this ultimate frisbee city league I felt like this was an incredible stretch. For me at that time, It WAS! However, I think it taught me an amazing thing. I can learn to do things I’m not very good at and it’s ok to take the risk and try.
This lesson has served me very well and been re-taught to me over and over as I’ve learned to stretch myself in new, valuable, and unexpected ways.
You might thinking…what about the end of the story? What happened once I showed up at the city league?
I ended up getting put on what I believe was likely the only team that accepted players that singed up individually. They were from the next town over and not very athletic. Although, a number of them had been playing ultimate frisbee for quite a while. So, I was lucky enough to become the fast one who would run deep. Plus, little by little these veterans taught me all the things I was doing wrong and how I could do better.
I spent the entire summer working on throwing the forehand and finally mastered it. At the end of the league I was invited to play on the club team that was traveling to another college to play against other college teams. I eventually went on to play at sectionals and regional tournaments in a number of different states having the time of my life.
In fact, ~11 years later I’m still playing ultimate frisbee as often as possible. I even help organize the non-profit Las Vegas Ultimate frisbee organization. When my first son was born I had him holding a frisbee the first day home.
Imagine if I’d been too afraid to sign up and “Sabotaged My Own Success.” I’d not only have missed out on learning something I now love, but I’d have set a terrible pattern for future choices.