Stay Grounded

Thursday 21 November, 2013

Two things are likely to happen as we progress with our personal development (actually, as we progress with anything). First we get excited, then we stop doing what worked for us in the first place. This post is about the excitement of progress, how important it is to enjoy it and celebrate as much as we can, but also keep our feet on the ground. It is written primarily for a friend, so I don’t have to keep reminding him to do what he knows he needs to do. But it’s also for the rest of us because when our excitement gives rise to complacency we begin to undo all our good work.

The best examples come from sport, where games are won and lost because players either kept their heads or didn’t. The tennis player who gets excited because he has match point against the world number one, only to lose point after point because his focus has slipped. Those who succeed are the ones who maintain their focus to the very end, even if it means dulling their enjoyment of the approach to victory. The wise are well aware how easy it is to fall at the final hurdle. They know that match point is the hardest of all points to win.

A golfer on the verge of victory, who hits his final approach shot to within two feet of the pin, cannot afford to get too excited because there is still work to be done. Only when success has been assured, can he celebrate. Even then, the great golfers know they will be back to the practice greens very soon, preparing for the next tournament. There is nothing as grounding as the mundanity of practice after glory.

Footballers everywhere all know that a team is never more vulnerable than when they have just scored, because it’s in that moment of excitement and achievement that their discipline lapses. Of course, it also has to do with the opposition needing to fight to get back into the game, but it’s still true that complacency is more likely when we’re winning.

Commentators and experts express a desire to see a promising young athlete remain grounded, praising the influence of coaches and family alike, for keeping the potential superstar’s feet on the floor. That’s how important it is. Furthermore, we need reminding constantly because even when we are disciplined with our emotions and we curb our excitement, it’s easy to get cocky about not getting cocky.

A sporting career is much shorter than the span of our personal development, but the two journeys still bear comparison. It is vitally important to celebrate our successes, but we must know that in order to be able to celebrate again, we must get back to the job in hand sometime soon. Very often, it’s sooner than we think, and almost always sooner than we’d like. That thought alone is enough to keep us grounded.

Related post: Grounding Myself

2 Responses to “Stay Grounded”

  1. Eveline Says:

    Boxing it in will always be associated with this blog post in my head.

  2. Jonathan Lewis Says:

    Yes. Boxing it in is a great way to contain the energy of excitement. Rather than jump about and allow it to dissipate, we can contain it, enjoying it more peacefully, more constructively and for longer.

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