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To Find Success You Must
Allow Yourself To Fail

by Jay Lindsay
Copyright 2013, National Business Reports, All Rights Reserved

A long time friend suddenly decided one day not too long ago that he wanted to learn to play tennis. He relayed this story saying that he had played maybe two games as a youngster when he was in high school — a long, long time ago.

Off to the sporting goods store he dashes, grabbing a racket, a can of balls, the proper sporting attire, including shoes, and finally a video tape titled "How To Play Tennis." A silent chuckle raced only through my mind as I continued to listen to his story and tried to imagine this man, a somewhat hefty and awkward soul, dressed in tennis attire and prancing proudly onto a tennis court.

He continued saying that he had watched the video about the game at least a dozen times. After much study and a few practice swings with his racket, he was ready. He made reservations for a court and talked an acquaintance into being his foe for this first match — his debut into what my friend considered his introduction into the professional world of tennis.

The day came and he was ready. He lost the toss and his opponent served the first ball. It quickly became apparent that my friend was less than an expert at the game. He was terrible!  He struggled to swat returns he couldn't have possibly made and then missed even the easy returns. He was all over the court looking much like a new born giraffe trying to find its legs while swatting at flies.

So you may be thinking that the moral of this story is "give up before you make a complete fool of yourself." Wrong! There's actually more to the story and then I'll explain why this is being reported.

After such a trouncing on the courts, a lesser person would probably hang their head in total embarrassment, break the racket over their knee and burn their tennis attire. Certainly they would never again venture into a public place.  No, the next week my friend is back on the court and is playing just as badly as before.

The third week he wises up and makes an appointment with a tennis instructor. In the first lesson the instructor explains the importance of "no man's land." This was explained to me as a section of the court which you want to avoid even though you are naturally drawn to this area. My friend said this one little basic tip made a marked difference in his abilities and the next week he actually began to make a few returns. Within just a few weeks, with more lessons and more practice, he got to the point where he was fairly good at the game.

My friend stated how angry he was that the basic tip about "no man's land" was not even mentioned on the video tape he had watched so many times in his effort to learn the game. A few weeks later on a rainy Saturday afternoon, he said he again popped the instructional video into the player to see if he could pick up any other tips ... and there it was! It was right there on the screen. They were talking about "no man's land" and how this knowledge was critical to learning the game. How could he have missed it?

Now my friend has never been anything other than an achiever when it comes to reaching the goals he has established for himself in business and his personal life. Even though the game of tennis at first terribly embarrassed him and kicked him solidly in the seat of the pants, he would not easily be defeated.

There are several good lessons that can be learned from this story. The first is that in order to be successful at any endeavor you must not overlook the basics. Sometimes in life we get in such a hurry for success that we sprint right past the simple, basic information that, acting like a roadmap, easily leads us in the right direction. Overlook the basics and you'll find your path scattered with huge potholes that make the journey much more difficult than it has to be. A perfect example would be trying to learn algebra without knowing that two minuses equal a plus. Remember -2 X -2 = +4?

Another important point is that you must be willing to allow yourself to be inept and clumsy, at least in the beginning.  If you only do things you are good at, there will be no growth ... and a very limited future.

My friend made up his mind that he was going to play tennis no matter what. He said, "I CAN DO THAT!"  Here's what he didn't do:  Took up tennis — dropped it, tried badminton — quit, took up golf — broke the clubs, played a game of billiards — gave up, played a hand of poker — lost, and so forth.

The bottom line is this:  You'll never be good at anything until you learn the basics and practice the game.

Could it be that thousands of people go through life just bouncing from one thing to another, never stopping to perfect their form?

"Tennis anyone?"

National Business Reports PO Box 99 Spring Branch, TX  78070

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