Making a Change

I recently took a tennis lesson.  I’ve played tennis for about twenty-eight years.  I know how to play tennis but I’m always looking for ways to improve things and I’ve got a pretty inconsistent forehand.

I had a great instructor.  He asked me a few questions about my ability and tennis history and then he watched me hit a few balls.  He said we needed to change my stroke.  I was a little nervous.  I’d used the same stroke for twenty-eight years but it wasn’t working 100% of the time.  My old way of doing things only provided winning shots about 25% of the time.  That wasn’t working for me yet I was nervous about the adjustments.

My instructor was incredibly observant.  He could see I was athletic, fit, and aggressive.  He stated it clearly; “You go to battle every time you get on the tennis court”.  He knew I’d do anything I could to win a point and I’d do it most of the time but could we make things easier?   By making this one change, could I be more efficient?

I was used to hitting the ball flat and in a very narrow window.  I was working with a window of about a foot above the tennis net.  Flat and narrow was my approach.  I think I could only make it harder on myself if I was blindfolded.  Why hadn’t I noticed that I was using such a narrow window of opportunity?

He talked about how with this adjustment to my stroke, I now had a much larger window of opportunity, about three feet above the net, and a much higher percentage of success.  As he worked with me, he pointed it out, “You just made 4 out of 5 shots vs. the 1 out of 5 in your old stroke”.  Wow.

Sometimes we don’t see how small changes can make a big difference.  We know something isn’t working but we don’t know what to do to make a change.

How could you change things today in a small way?  What if you drove to work a different way?  Tried a different coffee shop or even a different coffee drink?  Decided to be vegan for a day or even a meal.

I’m reminded of a story from my childhood.  There was a woman who always cut the ends off a ham before she baked it.  When her daughter came along, let’s call her Jane, she always cooked the ham the same way, slicing off the ends before she placed it in a pan and baked it.  Jane had her own daughter, Rose.  Rose watched Jane prepare the ham for baking and asked Jane why she cut off the ends of the ham.  Jane responded, “That’s how my mother did it”.  The question and answer stumped Jane so she went back to her mother and asked her, “Why did you cut the ends off the ham before baking it?”  Jane’s mother responded, “Because my pan was too small”.

Ponder why you do what you do.  Is it time to ask a simple question and make a simple change?





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