Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lessons from the Court

flickr/Charis Tsevis

Life lessons can come from unexpected places. 

I played racquetball for many years, and some of the greatest lessons I learned while playing were not about the game, but about life. Here are some of the more important life lessons that that I learned on the court:

1. People play better when they are encouraged. It's true in all of life. People do better when others cheer them on, rather than criticizing, condemning and judging. My influence as a parent, a leader, a supervisor or a friend is most effective when I encourage those around me.

2. When two or more people occupy a small space, they need to get along. It’s against the rules of the game to push people around. This principle applies to any small space: homes, schools, places of work, communities and even our planet.

3. The only way to get better is to practice, on the court and off. In every area of life, the only way to improve is to practice. Confidence takes practice. Leadership takes practice. Nurturing a mind or a spirit takes practice. Improving relationships with others takes practice. Simply learning how to be happy takes practice. And remember, there are always people willing to help.

4. Much of success is about paying attention. On the court, those who lose their focus, lose games. In life, people who are too distracted by yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s problems will never experience the fullness and joy of today.

5. There are always people who will do better than you. Always. But your job is not to be the best. If you simply strive to be YOUR best, you will have succeeded.

6. When playing doubles, teams that cooperate wins games. No team, no household, no small group, no faith community, no business, no enterprise will succeed that is plagued with internal squabbling.

7. Failures are lessons. When I lose a game badly, it is not a personal failure. Rather, I thank my opponent for the free lesson and figure out where I need to work. Failures are not endings; they are valuable opportunities to learn.

8. It isn't over until the last point is scored. Many victories are snatched after one comes back from almost insurmountable odds. So it is with life.

9. Work can be fun, but fun should never become merely work. A racquetball game is still a game and should be enjoyed. In life, there is always joy to be found and shared.

10. On the court, the only way to score is to serve. Likewise, service is key to life. People who make a difference find ways to serve others. And those people who are happiest and most satisfied with their lives are those who have learned the value of giving their time, energy and resources away. Great lives are built on service. 

Life lessons can come from anywhere. And I have the rest of my life to keep learning them.

-- Steve Goodier

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