Archive for March 2010


Life is a series of curve balls.

One thing I’ve noticed recently – that I often take for granted – is that life is a series of curve balls.

The concept is so simple its sometimes overlooked. Hearing that phrase evokes a learned and canned response, “well duh, shit happens.” Cynicals would say you were preaching to the choir.

But in a cynical view, the prospector is much less likely to adapt. Every athlete knows that frustration and anger will prevent the mental state and concentration needed for the next action.

Any second can bring confrontation, reversing perspectives, emotional distress, or unplanned events.

What would *I* usually do? I would recognize and react to any situation with my first instinct. Due to my own emotional inexperience, I grasp onto that first strong visceral “gut” feeling and build my perspective off all the assumptions that follow. Its the equivalent of swinging blind. Even later when I would realize my initial assumption was wrong, my pride would prevent me from formally recognizing it and I wouldn’t fully adjust.

Lately I’ve been trying to let my initial and most visceral response pass (feeling the response without action), then analyze the situation with as much data as possible using the emotional response as a guide . Only after would I make any assumptions.

Unless I’m not learning anything new (and I hope I am), then I couldn’t possibly know what to do when the “curve ball” occurs. In fact, more times than not I won’t even recognize I’m in a new situation. My first guess is probably completely wrong. My next one – more than likely – isn’t much better. It won’t be until the third attempt that I gain any sense of awareness or a clear goal.

This could be with a skate trick, a programming or math problem, or even the best way to approach a person when responding.

Maybe there’s a good reason life throws us “curve balls.” In baseball, we get three chances then we are out. We are forced to adapt quickly or we lose. The biggest difference in life is “getting off the plate” is permanently our decision. (This is why most things are better than baseball).

Getting off the plate hides in snoozing the alarm, not remembering small but important tasks, or even worse making a handful of assumptions to “save time.”

We’ve all been guilty of these at some point. Hell, it would be impossible to never “give up” – we “give up” as it were for 8 hours a day (no, not at work – sleep!). The important thing, I believe, is always looking for ways to understand a situation or a person better.  Knowing this is understanding that life really is largely unplanned, things change, and some times your bracket gets screwed in the first round.

Accessing our strengths (loved ones, motivation, perspective, and rest) is really the only way to fight mental and emotional stress.

So when I’m confronted with an event out of my control, I let it go and think about my next swing. Life truly is a series of curve balls.

If you ever want to hit anything, you better pay attention.