A Leap Of Faith

by Rich on November 6, 2017

Remember this: all of life is a risk.

There is a common discussion around sports surrounding the art of decision making during competition. I call it an art, but really it’s a process. And as a fan, or even a competitor or coach, it’s easy to second guess that process once the decision has been made. We see it constantly. It’s what sports talk radio and TV networks use to fill air-time when there are no games to broadcast. Many people have made ridiculous amounts of money doing it. It’s their entire career. You know how it goes.

It’s a crucial football game late in the season. Two rivals are squaring off, and the game is close. Perhaps one has had an “iffy” season. A couple of good wins, a couple of bad losses. The locker room isn’t confident. At some point in the game, it’s fourth down and short and the coach of that team has to decide whether or not to go for it. There are all kinds of factors going into that call, but a lot of times it comes down to a hunch. A gut feeling.

It’s the rubber match of a baseball series. It’s late in the year and one team is fighting to get into the post season. every win counts enormously. The game goes to extra innings and the manager of that team is running out of bodies to put on the mound. But one run scored means his team wins, and he has a runner on third with two outs. His guys are exhausted. Does he try to bunt the run in? Does he go for the squeeze play? Does he put in a pinch runner to steal home?

These are just a couple of easy to understand examples, but they happen in every sport. Pulling the goalie in hockey, putting in a pure shooter in basketball, laying up or going for it in golf. Big risk, big reward.

The problem is that in life, we, as a species, are genetically designed to avoid risk (unless you’re a 17 year old male. Then you track it down and give it a bear hug). Sure, you may drink from the milk carton a day after the expiration date, but it’s calculated. We want the reward to be worth the risk. And if we can’t quantify it in some measurable way, it very often comes down to our gut feelings.

I have used all of these sports analogies because I was reminded this week that it is healthy for us to step out of our comfort zones and take risks, even when the odds may be stacked against us. Because there are long range benefits to taking a leap of faith without a safety net that go beyond the immediate results. What does it say to your players about your belief in them if you make the call to go for it on fourth and short? Or if you attempt that squeeze play? Or even to yourself when you don’t lay up but whack away out of the woods, firing for the pin? Big risks, yes. But big rewards, even if you fail. Because living through the failure teaches us the real risk is letting the fear of that very failure control us. So maybe you didn’t get the big reward on this one. You still learned from the experience, and that’s a win. Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.

Remember, all of life is a risk.

 

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