Life Lessons From Basketball: On Doing Nothing
We are often told that the first thing is to “do no harm”. What if doing nothing turns out to be harmful?
I have often been afraid of doing something wrong, making a wrong move, committing an error. There are times when I have felt literally frozen in my tracks or, worse yet, headed straight for the big tree at the fork in the road for fear of choosing to go right or left. How many things have I thought about but not done due to the fear of being “wrong” or “bad” or ridiculed, including putting off starting this blog for the last three months?
What has motivated me to begin is a conversation I had this morning with my husband, who is a basketball coach. The gist of his message was this:
The worst thing you can do on court is to do nothing. If you make a move, and you do it purposefully and quickly, then it cannot be bad. It’s the player who passes the ball and then just stands there that is doing “the wrong thing.” You can never just stand there and do nothing.
While this was about basketball (yes, that’s what wives of coaches end up listening to at breakfast…and at most other times of the day!), it applies to the rest of life as well. Doing nothing by default turns out to be a choice as well. And it often leads to less desirable results than making a proactive choice, one way or the other. For me, the problem is worst when I have many options and am scared to try one of them for fear of making the suboptimal choice. I also hate closing the door on the others. That’s when I need a basketball coach equivalent to shout from the sidelines, “Don’t just stand there! Make a move!”
That’s a big vote for erring on the side of sins of commission rather than sins of omission. Or, as a friend and strategist is fond of saying, “fail forward,” rather than be paralyzed into not trying at all. Well, I am off to make a move!