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You Cannot Win if You Don’t Play

“50 cents to play, 50 cents to win!” 

I used to mimic the people who ran the games tables at the fair grounds. My favourite was the colours game. You simply put your quarters on a colour and watched as the wheel spun, praying all the while that you would get a big payout of….$1.  Most times I would lose but I won enough to keep playing.  From early on, the message was clear. You cannot win if you don’t play. I guess the reverse is also true. You cannot lose if you don’t play either but I am not interested in safe. 

My last post, which I deemed my “most revealing post ever“, is ultimately about winning. And yet, my journey to having a baby was full of losses.

I had a minor failure this a.m. while rolling out pastry for a pumpkin pie. I will spare you the dull details. Pie is made now and looks lovely. Well, it looked lovely. Now it is mostly eaten. (This is simply the Thanksgiving mention as I feel funny writing a post about losing and failure on Thanksgiving weekend when I could be writing about all that I am thankful for).

Anyway, back to the point. Someone I love dearly had a more significant failure earlier this week.  It was 50x bigger than screwing up pastry. He/ she got thrown an unexpected curve ball.    In the moments after learning the news, he/ she had no idea what to do with it. 

Failure is like that.  It can level you…for a time.

A recent speech at Toastmasters has stuck with me.  The speech was entitled “Be the Babe”; it was delivered with passion by Peitro Di Benedetto (who doesn’t do anthing without gusto by the way!). Here’s a key exerpt:

We’ve all experienced unexpected challenges from time to time in our lives. The more curve balls we’re thrown, the more practice we will have at hitting them.

In 1923, Babe Ruth broke 2 important records:

  • #1- The record for most home runs in a season;
  • #2 (and one that most people don’t know about)- The record for the most strikes outs; he struck out more than  any other player in Major League Baseball.

Babe Ruth was not afraid to strike out and it was this fearlessness that contributed to his remarkable career. When “The Babe” retired, he had 1,330 career strike outs – a record he held for 29 years until it was broken by none other than another Yankee legend, the great Mickey Mantle.

Around the same time, my favourite blogger, Penelope Trunk, wrote about taking intelligent risks.  It’s all tied into willingness to play and lose/ to try and fail.  Here are Penelope’s top five on how to take intelligent risks (read her full post  and check out the great new wallpaper she hastily applied with Elmer’s glue) : 

  1. Long term regrets are usually about not taking more risks;
  2. Being wrong costs very little;
  3. People bounce back faster than they expect;
  4. Don’t make the risk bigger than it needs to be;
  5. Most risks turn out fine.

So what does this seemingly meandering, hastily written post boil down to? 

It seems the logical conclusion is to take lots of intelligent risks (i.e. play often). Swing at the curve balls and strike out often in order to hit more home runs. And know that even when you lose/ fail, like my friend did this week and I did for two years in trying to have a baby, that you will be feeling better in no time.  The costs are small in the long run and you will forget how much they stung when you eventually win.   And by the way, the people who love you will love you just as much if not more for playing in the first place.

“Looks like it’s gonna be, and it is….GREEN…luck of the Irish!”

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Penelope Trunk October 11, 2010, 10:53 am

    The part about Babe Ruth is so interesting. It’s actually hard for me to believe that striking out if you don’t get a home run is good for the team. I mean, I think teams are built on people who can get on base every time (not that I’m an expert.) All the same, it makes me think a lot about taking other people into consideration when taking risks.

    Part of getting good at taking risks is knowing when it’s okay to put the fulfilling of other peoples’ needs at risk as well.

    Penelope

  • Lisa October 11, 2010, 2:20 pm

    Hi Penelope-
    It’s an honour to have you visit and comment. And your take on this comes from an angle I hadn’t given any thought to. Perhaps Babe’s coach and teammates thought he was a selfish fame seeking egotistical ass? I went looking for some more history to see if I could find anything about his personality. It seems that his home run hitting prowess and charismatic personality made him a larger than life figure in the “roaring twenties” and made him the greatest baseball player in history. Off the field he was famous for his charity, but also was noted for his often reckless lifestyle (perhaps he took a lot of unintelligent risks?) It would seem he was unfaithful to his first wife at a minimum. On the whole, this bigger than life slugger is credited with changing baseball itself. And yes, that certainly must have had impacts good and bad on the people around him.
    Lisa

  • Pietro October 12, 2010, 4:30 pm

    Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for including me in your Blog. It’s very much appreciated… but enough about me.

    We never had a chance to speak after last week’s Toastmaster meeting. Actually, I really wanted to hug you. Then I turned around and you were gone… Shucks !
    So I thought about what to write. Very simply, I’m proud to know you and impressed by your resilience and your will to follow your dreams. Your story touched me very profoundly. Standing there & delivering your speech, placing your hand on your tummy now and then, pacing back and forth. I felt your determination, your emotions, your anxiety, your bursting happiness. I said to myself, “Look at Lisa, she wants this more than anything else in the world. WOW! A dreamer that dreams with her eyes open. Now that’s something!”

    It’s not easy to get back on your feet when you’ve “Struck out” or been “Knocked Down”. I know you’ve had your share of missed swings. Sometimes, the dirt you get from falling down, weighs you down. When I was a 10 year boy at the park I learned to brush the proverbial dirt off and get back on the plate. I’ll never forget that little Italian boy who kept Striking out and saying, “One day, I’m gonna hit that ball!” As adults we forget how quick we were at getting back on our feet as children.

    So How do we get back on our feet? The difference to getting up faster than others is having found something to hold on to. Call it passion, love, the thrill of winning, or a dream we can’t let go of. We all need to get into the game, rather than sitting by the sidelines. When we keep waiting for something to happen we usually don’t realize that we’re really watching life pass us by.

    Lisa, I know you’re “In the game !”. Your story has inspired me to “Stay in the Game!”

    Thank you. Grazie Bella. Che Dio ti Benedica e che ti protegge il tuo bambino,
    Pietro

  • Lisa October 12, 2010, 5:17 pm

    Pietro
    Where do I begin…first off, I am sorry I missed the hug! Next…your comments are incredibly timely for another reason. I just got off the phone with my coaching group. We meet every other week to help each other and hold each other accountable to what we are creating in our businesses. Today the focus was entirely on me and my business. We called it my “Board of Your Business” wherein the coaches acted like my board of directors (check out http://www.boardofyourlife.com for my friend’s business). What was clear for me going in and coming out is that I am missing the big vision for my own business at the moment. It’s a little hard to admit that as a coach, I am not working toward a passionate dream for my business right now but it’s true. I love what I do but I have been very focussed on creating a baby and my plans have become rather short-term…how will I create as much business as possible before the baby comes? How will I manage in the first few months while the baby is here? Then what? What all four of us concluded is that I need to spend time on my business vision again. I am calling a coach now. I need some help. I am in the game and I am staying in the game AND I need to find my “true north star” so that I don’t look back and feel like I was in the stands rather than hitting!!
    Grazie to you for sharing with me that my story inspired you. Don’t just stay in the game…make it a bigger game. That is what Babe did.

  • Jane October 15, 2010, 9:17 pm

    Good post. I, like so many, have taken risks over the course of my adult life. Some have panned out, others not, both personally and professionally. To some, I may appear as one who dives right in, risks be damned. I think, though, that in the end, I tend to stay in my comfort zone; thinking I want/need a consistent salary, for example. I tend to work better independently, however, the risk of starting my own business in the field I’m in, scares the heck out of me. Perhaps, as I turn 40 next summer, my mid-life crisis will be breaking out of this comfort zone and taking the risk of working for me.

  • Lisa October 15, 2010, 9:59 pm

    I dare say, Ms. Jane, that by putting it in writing here, you are well on your way to taking the risk of working on your own. You have totally got what it takes…the courage, the experience, and the network. Great goal to have for your 40th. Let me know if there is any way I can help. I think career jobs are fantastic for those who place a very high value on stability and I think the ride that is entrepreneurialism is very thrilling for many. Keep me posted!

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