Eye on the Ball

Yesterday, I posted about letting go of some control because I was overthinking and losing sleep over a technical problem with some recording equipment. I’m happy to report that we made some adjustments, today, and it all worked out. More importantly, I shared my apprehensions with Beth and my colleagues. This made me feel less anxious when I arrived at the school.

It’s becoming clearer to me how the brain (my brain, anyway) and my instincts are not to be trusted exclusively, that I have been operating under a fixed mindset of “real men do it themselves.”

This past week, one of my friends suggested that I am somewhat impulsive. At first, I thought he was criticizing me, but after a few moments of explaining I learned that he viewed this as a bittersweet quality. At times, my ability to move into something fully, on my own power and with few reservations is a great quality. Other times, I shoot first and ask questions later.

When I was a boy, I was lousy at hitting a baseball. For decades, I blamed everyone (coaches, my dad) except me. The truth is, I swung a too big bat while closing my eyes. Instead of “keep your eyes on the ball” or “just make contact” I swung for the fences. Surely, I was told to watch the ball as it left the pitcher’s hand, but I did not listen or couldn’t hear that piece of important advice. I struck out a lot!

This extended to school work, too. As a boy, I was told to “come by the office for extra math help” if I needed it. There were probably similar offers for chemistry or other courses where I suffered. Looking back, I was more willing to suffer in silence than admit a weakness in sports or school.

It’s not bad to be independent, but I’m finding that “no man is an island” was written for guys like me. For egoic reasons, I developed into an “I can do it” fellow instead of a “we can do it” team player. Perhaps I wanted all of the credit or I feared a loss of control in shared leadership. These are old tapes in my head.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten better. I’ve surrounded myself with really good, smart people who also love me enough to confront me when needed. I have excellent fellow travelers in ACA, in our businesses and as friends. And I’m getting better at listening to Beth, my kids and those who only want the best for me.

It used to be that criticism, no matter how well intended, pissed me off. I felt threatened when I was “wrong.” A young part of me desperately wanted to be right, perfect and without mistakes. This adolescent inside of me fears being found out and judged unworthy.

The great thing is that this is totally normal. Of course, we want to be good and hide what might embarrass us. Eventually, though, we get old enough to start a new chapter, one that doesn’t begin with “If I do this then people will admire me.” Instead, the chapter might begin with, “Now I’m ready to be me, imperfectly perfect Scott who is gonna do his best today.”

That’s keeping my eye on the ball.

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