No B.S Friday: Could things actually be a lot easier than you thought?
Ok, here’s a bit of a tortured analogy for you, but I think it’s worth it.
So imagine you’re a tennis player. You’re a good tennis player. Everyone tells you you’re a good tennis player.
You do all the things a tennis player should. You have a racquet. You hit balls with it. The balls go, more or less, where they’re supposed to go. You’re winning.
And you’ve been doing it for a long time. You’ve invested a lot in your skills and your gear. You dream about tennis balls in your sleep.
Now imagine you’re out on the court one day and someone comes along. Let’s call them, oh I don’t know, Jon.
Jon says, “Hey, you’re doing a great job of this game you’re playing. Fantastic job. It’s genuinely impressive…
But, this is not the game you are supposed to be playing. At the very least, it’s not the only game you could be playing.
You could go and play chess with the judge. You could play poker with the ball boys. That woman in the blue hat three rows back? She’d be a fantastic bridge partner.
You could, also and however, decide to not play any games at all. You could simply enjoy the warm sun on your face, the taste of the Gatorade and cucumber sandwiches, or make a fascinating connection with the old man in wrap-around sunglasses.
It is totally up to you.”
Now, are you going to believe him? Are you capable of believing him?
What I reckon is that most people simply can’t hear this message. They might get a sense that what he’s saying might be true. They might have had days where they’ve peeked behind the veil and realised that there is something deeper / more creative and wild / more expansive in possibility going on.
But they just can’t let themselves believe it.
Because they are invested.
In life we develop a set of tools and strategies. They get us through. We come to rely on them.
And we can become amazingly proficient with working our tools and executing our strategies.
And the more developed our skills become, the more the idea of giving them up becomes terrifying.
Without them we feel naked and vulnerable.
And what’s the problem with that?
Well, it’s more than a case that if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat every problem like a nail.
It’s that there may not be any problem at all.
Maybe your challenge in life is not how to whack balls past your opponent / keep your heart from getting hurt / get as many people to love you / accumulate as much as you can… whatever.
The tools and strategies we develop early in life are (possibly) the right tools and strategies for a very particular set of problems.
As we grow and get older, the problems change, but often the game we’re playing doesn’t.
We don’t realise that the game we’re playing has actually changed, or that the game we thought we were playing is actually nothing like what we thought it was.
And we might be awesome. We might be formidable.
But there’s no point being the best tennis player on the netball court… or in Woolies.
The great challenge I think is to keep ourselves supple. Yes, we have to develop skills and strategies, but we need to stay open to the feedback life is giving us, and keep asking ourselves, “What game am I playing here? What game do I want to be playing? Do I want to play at all?”
Find the tools to do the job.
Don’t find the job to match the tools.
And if we can do this – if we can find this suppleness – then, finally, we might become open to the idea that it’s all a lot easier than we thought.