For the Love of Your Game

“Be out for your own fun. Be out for your own curiosity.”  Ira Glass

When I was 16, I tried out for the high school tennis team.

I had practiced all summer and was elated to be chosen, only to discover the next day that I’d been cut. When picking the team, the coach had forgotten to factor in her two star players.

Not having the presence of mind to persist and ask to show up anyway, I was not only disappointed but deterred. I pretty much stopped playing.

And yet, tennis is something that I have always liked. Not so much the match play, but the experience of hitting the ball and hearing and feeling the solid “thwack” that accompanies it when hit well. I don’t need to win Wimbledon; I just want to hit a tennis ball well.

For years, I hadn’t done anything about it until this year. When I took my vacation –– because we all need to take a break –– I also took a few tennis lessons. I am happy about this because, like most of us, there are things I’d like to do but don’t make time or allow myself to do.

The lessons alone would have made the vacation a success.

I have to remind myself of that because, in my mind, I was going to improve a lot faster than I did. I had grandiose expectations, which the teacher tried to set straight at the start, “This is going to be a lot harder than you think it will be.”

Even though I found myself expecting to do better, I still had fun. When I could just be in the moment, learning, hitting, and rewiring the muscles, it was deeply satisfying.

I enjoyed this brief clip from Ira Glass (thanks to Traca Savadago for sharing this and the next one with me). He talks about the gap between what we want to do/be and what we actually achieve, between our taste or aspiration and the reality we can create. And importantly, he reminds us that while disappointment and frustration can derail us, practice and perseverance can get us where we want to go. The beginning of a new S Curve, the launch point, isn’t where we meet our own expectations; it’s on the continuing journey.

I also appreciate this video from Ira. He reveals that it took him four years to get to one million downloads per episode of his flagship program, This American Life. By comparison, his first podcast, Serial, took four weeks to get a million downloads, and his second podcast, S-Town, took four days. Patience and perseverance pay off.

This week’s podcast guest is Marcus Buckingham. He was our guest several years ago, too (Episode 112). 

Now Marcus has a new book, Love + Work. His thesis is that your brain on love is MORE: more focused, more motivated, and more resilient, even if you aren’t very good at what you love. In other words, love helps you off the launch point of your S Curve. 

What are you doing today that you love? For your own fun, or to satisfy your curiosity? What did you maybe give up in the past that you would love to try again?

As always, I love that you are here,

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