Hi! I’m Joe…and I’m competitive.
If you know me already, that’s nothing new. If you don’t, then just challenge me to something…anything. It really doesn’t matter what it is. I’ll accept it and, until I find out otherwise, I’ll assume I’m the best there ever was at it.
I remember a couple summers ago some friends asked me to play tennis. “’Course,” I responded. I’d watched enough on ESPN, so what could be so hard? It’s Ping-Pong, just 10x larger. And since I didn’t suck at table tennis, I thought it should be easy enough.
The next day I ran out to get a Roger Federer racquet from Play It Again Sports and met my friends on the court. They brought their bag, their balls, their change of shirts. They blinded me with their ultra white kicks—actual tennis shoes. I showed up in a pair of gym shorts, a raggedy t-shirt that I’d tailored into a sleeveless long ago, and my Federer racquet still in the plastic packaging.
We exchanged a few ground strokes to warm up. After a few mishits, I stared at my racquet. What was going on? Federer wasn’t performing as I had expected. Hopefully, he and I were just saving it for the match.
It came time for the first serve and my friends let me go first. I walked—sauntered—back to the service line and assumed the pre-serve position. Leaning over, I bounced the ball four times, closed my eyes, and visualized what was surely about to be the most powerful serve this parks and rec tennis court had ever seen.
And it might have been. Unfortunately, my teammate’s backside got in the way. The ball never reached the net, but fell to the ground 10 feet short—along with my stricken tennis partner.
And that’s how the rest of the day played out. I hit a few between the lines, but hit far more nowhere near inbounds. We lost, despite my teammates best efforts, and he was more than gracious in defeat. I tried to laugh it off with everyone, but internally I was more than irritated. I had no idea I sucked so much at tennis.
Defeat happened in my professional life this week too.
Two business opps I really thought might come through for Keyhole Marketing did not. My skills, my services or my own self were not the best. Someone or something else was better. And, much like my tennis game, it sucked to find this out.
It’s a whole new world acting as your own salesman. Opportunities come and opportunities go. And I’m learning that I can’t take them so personally. I have to pursue them the best I can, learn from the wins and the losses, and then try, try again.
Fortunately for me, I don’t give up very easily. I sucked at tennis that day, but I played again…and again…and again. Hopefully, I sucked a little less each time. For me, I’d rather mishit than never hit at all.