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Don’t take a step out of your comfort zone, take a leap.

Don’t take a step out of your comfort zone, take a leap.

Go see how the big boys play. Better yet, go play with the big boys.

Get beat, get annihilated, get murdered–but pay attention. Why are they better? How come they can slide right by you and yet when you try to slide right by them, they’re right there?

Don’t take a step out of your comfort zone, take a leap.

Backstory: I organized a group of four 12 and 13-year old boys from our basketball team to participate in a 3 on 3 tournament. Unfortunately, the only age bracket they fit into was the “Under 15” which means that the boys can be 14 and 11 months and play against my guys who weeks ago turned 13. If you happen to know any boys in that age range, you know that those 2 years can mean a foot in height, 50 pounds in muscle and agility approaching men. To give you an idea of how the games went, imagine your middle-schoolers playing against a top high school team. It was shocking, then we got used to it, then we learned.

The boys played better every round. Sure, we got squashed, but our eyes were opened to a world, no, another galaxy of basketball that our boys had never experienced–much less played against. We got dunked on in the first round whereas I had a thought that the closest my boys get to dunking is Dunkin’ Donuts …

By the end of the day, we had turned the slaughter into a learning experience. “We scored against some of the top players in our age bracket in the country,” one of my boys said over celebratory fries and a milkshake.

“But how come when I tried to get by him on offense he was always right there with me but when he tried to get by me, he just blew by me?”

HINT: They’re better than you are. They have more experience. They’re older, bigger and taller.

So the question you ask yourself is:

Do you want to get better?

Do you want to improve? Do you play with the big boys and think:

  1. I’ll never be that good.

Or do you think:

  1. Give me the time and practice and I’ll get there.

You think you’re pretty good. Maybe you know you’re pretty good. How do you compare to those at the top of your industry? Note that this is not an exercise in depression, this is about seeing where you are and where you’re heading.

If you think you’re already at the top, where else is there to go? There is always someone out there who is a few steps ahead of you. Relish in it, follow them, see what they’re doing and if it seems like a good direction, follow them, parallel them or go in your own version of that direction.

On the other side of the coin:

If you’re winning all of your games, it’s time to switch leagues.

It goes the same for looking from the top down.You don’t learn much if it’s too easy. If you’re killing your opponent every single game, what’s the fun in that anyway? Sure, you win, but what are you really winning? You know you’re not really winning if there was no competition to begin with. (You know that, right?)

If there is no longer any competition, it’s time to up the ante. Where are they? Why aren’t you playing against them? If it’s your work, there is certainly someone (or a company) in your industry who you admire. What are they doing that you’re not? Or maybe, what are you doing that they’re not?

Wherever you are, it’s your choice to go up or down. Oh, I hear whispers of, “Can’t we just move along slowly sideways?”

Absolutely, just make sure you give some room for those who pass you by.

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