Photo by Michelle Adams
Playing sports in front of a crowd is one of the most vulnerable things that a person can do. Good, bad, or mediocre everyone gets to see how well or how poorly you play. I suppose most coaches are like my husband who would encourage his team to leave everything on the field. What he meant by that was that he wanted his team to give it their all every time. He didn’t want them to wait and reserve their energy for another quarter or the next game. He didn’t want them to worry about who was or was not in the stands. Most importantly he didn’t want them to get caught up in the mistakes that they made during the game.
I wished that I remembered that while practicing for a speech contest in which I won 2nd place. While I really wanted to win 1st place I had to ask myself if I had left it all on the field. That loss taught me a lot about myself and how I wanted to show up in the world when I speak outside of church events. It taught me that the same vulnerability that I embraced within a church setting that I had to be willing to do that outside of the church. I had to not worry about who would or would not judge me for what they heard. Most importantly, I couldn’t get caught up in my mistakes along the way. I had to play full out and leave everything on the playing field.
While I committed the words to my speech to memory, I disconnected myself from the story so that it wasn’t as uncomfortable to share. I had not given myself permission to share the story because I was unconsciously concerned about exposing my imperfections and bad decisions. Strangely, I had given myself permission to say the words but not to be vulnerable. It’s like I bought myself a nice shirt but never allowed myself to wear it. I made myself feel wrong for having the experience. I was judging who I was based on the knowledge that I now have.
I had to give myself permission to share vulnerably. I had to make sure that I understood that my perspective was neither wrong nor right. I made a decision based on the information that I had at the time and I told the story in a way that was life-giving and honorable. Even though someone else was involved, it wasn’t about them. The speech was about me and the lessons that I had learned. I gave myself permission to wear the nice new shirt and leave it all on the field.
Despite not winning, I overcame the hurdle. I stand and share my story with my nice new shirt on. I don’t care if anyone sees my flaws or the poor choices that I have made. I am not worried about who will or will not judge the person who I was. I try my best (I’m not perfect) to not get caught up in my mistakes. They are my stories and I am willing to leave it all on the field for all to see.
What about you? Where are you playing small? Where are you holding back a little for later on your job, in your family, on your dream? Who are you worried about witnessing your victory or failure? What mistakes are you caught up in? Where are you holding back instead of going all in and how is it affecting your outcome? Let’s chat.