Close This Window
by Jay Lindsay
Copyright 2013, National
Business Reports, All Rights
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
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
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?
National Business Reports • PO Box 99 • Spring
Branch, TX 78070
Close This Window