Life is like a staircase. And also soccer.

A soccer ball and a staircase.  Thanks DALL•E!
What DALL•E gave me when I asked for a soccer ball going down a staircase

This post is adapted from a message I sent to one of our users this morning. Since early 2021, we’ve gotten on the phone for an hour and a half about once a month. Sometimes, it’s CheckBook tech support. More often, it’s a lot of reflection and sharing our human experience. So, stuff like this.

This morning, my mom and I talked about how my kids are doing with soccer and how I’m explaining things as I coach the team.  One point was about how to explain to 6 year-old kids, and their parents, how no one turns into a superstar overnight.  Heck, you won’t even be decent at half of it after your first year – and almost all of us are in our first year.

So I told Mom, if you think of life as a staircase, where your skills or understanding level up as you climb, you’ll spend a lot of time on each individual stair and very little actually climbing to the next.  The time you spend on a stair is like how deep it is – and most of the stairs are far deeper than they are tall.  Sometimes, you feel like you’ve been doing the same thing on the same stair forever.  Other times, you might start to worry you’ve fallen back down a stair or two.  But then, you have to remind yourself you don’t really fall down so much as not give yourself what you need to be your best on whatever stair you’re on. Sleep, diet, other habits of just about every kind, who you hang out with, who you don’t, what kind of information you let your brain eat, what kind you don’t; the list goes on and on.

In some ways, I continued, life’s also a lot like soccer – you get out on the field, put a mental box around the position you play, and wait. “Oh, here comes the ball,” you might say. “Hey, it’s kinda coming at me but it’s a few feet out of my position so I’m just gonna let it go…” And, so, you miss a lot of the action. Why not run up to the ball, kick it around a bit, see what happens?

The point is, when you think you’ve got all your answers, whether you’ve just been running in place on the same stair for so long you’ve forgotten you’re on a staircase in the first place or you play a soccer position and don’t want to stretch out a bit for a ball that doesn’t care about positions at all, maybe you’re not meeting life where it’s at.  To play better, think outside of your position but don’t forget it, keep that next stair in mind even as you don’t worry too much about it.  And, give yourself what you need to play your best.  Sometimes, that’s a self kick in the pants.  Other times, it’s a self nod that you’ll get there when you get there.

None of this would make any sense at all to a 6 year-old, so I’m probably going to sell it with an analogy about how they’ve been eating at least three times a day, every day of their life (which, if you factor out their first year, is something like 5500 times), and they still make a mess.

Keep eating, reach for your own condiments, don’t sweat your messes. And clean up already.

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