I just got back from playing tennis (I mentioned previously that I
play tennis 4 – 5 times per week) and it was rather windy. In fact, it
was so windy; it was as though the wind was an uninvited, unexpected
fifth player on the court. Playing outdoors, you cannot get rid of the
wind so, you just deal with it.
There’s a nice little rally going on, your opponent hits you a really nice shot, not too difficult to return. You get your racquet back, take a few steps towards the ball, turn on it to swing and a gust of wind kicks in! Suddenly the ball is not where you expected it to be…what to do? You make some quick adjustments to your footing, alter your swing a bit, curse under your breath and go for it. The one thing you don’t ever do is give up on it! Just like in life. How often might the unexpected get in your way?
You’re out driving on a beautiful, crisp autumn day. You know the route and you’ve not a care in the world. As you turn around a bend in the road, suddenly in front of you, there’s a huge branch that has fallen from a tree during the night. What to do? You make some quick adjustments to you footing, from the gas to the brake, alter your swing a bit by turning that steering wheel, curse under your breath and avoid that branch!
Perhaps you’re out on a sales call and although you’re very well prepared, during your opening conversation you unexpectedly find out some information that alerts you to the fact that your prospect is not going to appreciate your pitch. What to do? You make some quick adjustments to your “footing” by digging deep into your experience and knowledge base, you alter your swing by finding a new approach to get you where you want to go with the client, curse under your breath and go for it. The one thing you don’t ever do is give up on it! Just like in tennis.
To quote my good friend and speaker extraordinaire, Gil Eagles, “Guess what? Now what?” In other words, when life’s unexpected events get in the way or interfere with your plans…Guess what? It’s life, it’s real and yes, it’s actually happening! Now what? Now you call upon your past experiences, your knowledge and the resources at hand to make some adjustments and do what you must, to make the best of the situation.
Of course, there are the obstacles we know about in advance. When I am aware of the wind on the tennis courts and I toss the ball up to serve, I know what the wind will do to my toss and so I make adjustments in advance. When I know there has been a rain storm and I’m out in the car, I drive more carefully, extra alert for wet leaves and fallen branches. If I’ve done my research on a prospect and I am familiar with his or her likes and dislikes I have a much better shot at closing the sale.
In tennis and in life; be prepared for the known and unknown; avoid the stress, in fact, learn to Practice Safe Stress. Have Fun & Good Luck Out There!