What do you do with disappointment? Do you bury it, or minimize it? Pretend it’s not there or that it’s not really that bad? Do you compare what you’re going through to other’s struggles?
There are different levels of disappointment and it’s easy to get frustrated and even feel guilty when disapoinment sets in. We tell ourselves all kinds of things:
- “There are worse things.”
- “Other people are going through a lot tougher things than I am.”
- “I shouldn’t let this get me down.”
It’s so easy to minimize this emotion and what results from it; so easy to just bury it.
What happened near the end of my son Dylan’s junior basketball season is an example. Dylan had been playing great basketball and was featured in the sports section of our local paper. He was averaging more than 21 points a game and had broken the school scoring record. Colleges were taking notice. The team was really starting to come together.
On the same day the newspaper article was published, Dylan was injured. He was immobilized for several weeks and was not able to play in a big game against his rival. Recovery was slow and frustrating. We had to tell some college coaches to not come watch him play. It felt like his dream that he had worked so hard for was at risk. It just felt heavy.
Disappointment for him. Disappointment for us. It got me down — real down.
Now, I know there are worse things. We have lived through worse things with our kids. It’s just basketball, right? It’s not that important. Some would say, “Get over it. Look what others are going through.”
The pressure from the outside would be to bury it, minimize it and try not to feel it…to spiritualize it…
Somehow, that doesn’t feel like the right answer.
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” - Wayne Gretzky
I don’t want to be locked into the past, stuck with what was. I tend to be pretty reflective, especially in the season of life I am in right now. I have absolutely loved the last several years with our kids at home. But things are changing, and now more than ever I want to anticipate and use my God-given instincts to be where I need to be.
My youngest graduated from high school last weekend, and as I enter a new season of life, this rings even more true. I don’t want to get stuck in reflections of the past but I want to move on with great anticipation and step into whatever God has for me next. At the same time, as I think about this quote, it does strike me that it is important to study and to process, to look at the past and to learn from it.
I suspect in hockey Gretzky had to study specific opponents to learn their tendencies. No doubt he watched countless hours of film. Only then was he really prepared to anticipate and be where the puck was going.
The same is true for me. I think I need to learn from past events, the highs, the lows, the struggles, and try my best to understand the themes of my own life. Then I think I may be more ready to anticipate, to step away, to stay where I need to stay, or go where I need to go.
So how about you? is there anything you need to prepare for? Would it help to step back and to reflect, plan, and prepare so you are ready for what’s coming next?
I tend to live by emotions. I’m a classic intuitive-feeler type of leader on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I’m sure I rely on how I feel — on my gut instincts — maybe too much when it comes to making decisions about life, about how my days are going, about how I “feel” about work and how I treat people. It is a strength and a weakness. But emotions are part of the deal for me, without a doubt..
Disappointment, accomplishment, sadness, excitement…all of it makes life full, but my favorite emotion may be all that comes with anticipation.
I was recently driving to Colorado. When I saw the mountains in the distance I started to get excited as I pictured the clear streams and the high vistas. I realized I have been coming to this state for like 40 years, and the first sight of the mountains as I approach Denver on Interstate 76 STILL brings with it some extra excitement and anticipation.
Day to day the hopes, dreams, wonder, excitement, awe — the potential of what can be — keeps me going. I’m a dreamer, a visionary, and I have to think about what might be possible. I know that dreams without taking some steps of action are just dreams. I do like the challenge of taking those steps as well, but the dreaming, the ideas, the anticipation…that’s what I love. Sometimes I just need to remind myself to embrace it. It is just part of who I am. As a result, I have to live with the swings, the ups and downs that tend to come with it.
One thing I know is that I need to bring anticipation consistently into my life and the lives of others. It makes the journey more fun, more spontaneous, more mysterious.
So what’s your favorite emotion? What comes to mind when you think of it?
Why is it so hard? Why is it sometimes so tough to save our best for those closest to us? I don’t have any easy answers to that but as my youngest, Dylan, graduates from high school, a recent memory reminded me again how critical it is to sieze moments with those closest to us.
Several years ago, I was living life at a frantic pace. Finding a rhythm to my life had been a struggle. Then a friend called with the news that he had a couple of playoff tickets for a Lakers versus Nuggets game in Denver. Now, I’m no martyr — I love basketball. I love watching it and playing it — but our then-14-year-old Dylan loves it more. The Lakers have been his team since….well since birth.
There was one problem. The only way I could pull it off was to drive the 15 hours up and back on the same day, driving virtually all night on the way home. Typically I would stretch the experience out but I couldn’t do it this time. I had many people call me crazy ,but we decided to go for it.
It was a great day! Waiting by the Lakers holtel so Dylan could catch a glimpse of Koby and watching him light up when the Lakers took the floor made it totally worth it. It was about much more than a basketball game: it was about making time, setting a priority, being spontaneous and having fun, and we made a fantastic memory that will last a long time!
On the long drive back, I was reminded of one of the great challenges in life and leadership: in the busyness of life, in the frantic pace of earning a living, chasing relationships, pursuing work and just doing life, we must make sure we don’t miss it — that we don’t miss the hearts of those closest to us.
Now Dylan is winding up his senior year, and I am really glad I did not miss that chance. It is just one of many moments I have had with him, but it was a great one.
It may take some adjustments, maybe some extra resources, and even some personal sacrifice for those of you who are parents, but it’s worth it every time. When he walked across that stage to graduate yesterday, it was one of many memories that rushed through my mind. There will be more to come, but I am so glad I made that day happen.
Plan a trip, make a memory with someone close in the next week and let me know how it goes. In fact , if you have time, comment here on something you have done or something that was done for you that created a significant memory. We could all use some great ideas.
What’s the line between living large or living small?
So I was thinking again about the movie, “Chasing Mavericks.” Two of the characters in this movie are friends who live life very differently. One lives a very small story and one lives an epic story. The epic story is not just that he is chasing the monster wave, but it is also in how he lives his life in the ordinary day-to-day. The line between these two lives is very subtle, and the small choices make all the difference.
The main character is the boy who, despite tough circumstaces, is living a large story. He is not afraid to dream and he takes steps to pursue that dream. He works hard and knows that nothing comes easily. He has values and some basic principles that seem to guide his life:
- He sees obstacles as opportunities.
- He stays positive, affirms people, forgives people and keeps moving forward.
- He sees life as a great opportunity to seize the moments and live it to the fullest.
His friend in the movie lives a life that is very small. He had similar opportunities but he takes short cuts and settles for an easy road. He blurs the lines between right and wrong. He settles and doesn’t take the risks that are needed to do great things. He is afraid of standing alone and he seems to have stopped dreaming.
People need to be inspired by others who live large stories — by people who are not afraid to make the right decisions, who do things differently than the crowd, who aren’t afraid to stand alone, to work hard, to risk, to have fun yet not compromise.
It is always a battle to live out a larger story. The truth is, it is hard to find people who are living those larger stories. For me, it can be a lot easier to get comfortable and settle in. But I am challenged again to live life differently. I want to live big.
So who is someone that has inspired you by living out a large story? What are some things you have seen in people who live large?