Playing Up

My son probably doesn’t like this article, at least not much of it, maybe none of it.

I started playing tennis when I was around 12; played for fun for another 10 years or so. Then I pretty much left it until Mitchell started playing a while ago. Since then, I’ve played him, and pretty much only him, and only on the weekends when it’s warm enough and dry.  I’m a decent player, I think, but he caught up to my level in a few short years.

At that time, he’d been playing competitively on teams year round – fall, winter, and summer, plus the boys’ high school team. He’d attended at least 4-5 tennis camps and clinics each year. These usually involve many hours of intensive instruction, play, and conditioning. Outside of all this, he played often with his friends during the spring, summer and fall weekends.  He played a lot, with tons of different kids.

And yet, despite all his training and competition, I kept up. He was better – yes, but I could beat him.

We’ve all heard the concept of playing up, but its truth really hit me over those few months. How in the world could I beat him given he played and trained far more than I ever did?

I played up. Way up. Mitchell was definitely a far better tennis player than me. Better skilled, exceptionally smarter on the court, far more aware and more emotionally disciplined.  Despite that, I could win.

So it’s tennis. Who cares?

Hopefully, you do if you see where I’m going with this.

We turn the corner every new year. Do you want to improve in any area of your life? Do you want better sales? Do you want a better marriage? Do you want to think bigger, smarter, more creatively? Do you want to balance your life better? Do you want to lose weight or get in better condition? Do you want to drink less, eat better? Do you want more energy and vitality? Do you want more money? Do you want fulfillment?

With all the creative goal setting processes, articles, and apps, the best answer is really simple.

Play up.