Book: Reflections

Reflections - bringing attention to your daily life by Désirée Steinmann

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Reflections of the Week

The Ball Reflex

2013-04-18 18:41 (comments: 0)

At a presentation recently I took some tennis balls with and started my presentation by throwing one ball after the other into the audience. They were all catching them very well and no one dropped it! They were very proud of themselves and almost celebrated their achievement.

What happened there was a typical reaction.

Someone throws a ball at you and you catch it … even when we don’t see a reason for catching it … we just do it because someone throws the ball at us.

Especially in times of this financial crisis, fear of losing your job or just overwhelm of tasks that need to be taken care of instantly, it is high time to explore together one major reason for stress and frustration - Urgency.

Let’s say someone would rush in and shout fire! You would stop reading and reacting in an instant. It’s our fight or flights instinct.

When urgency becomes our driver, we function almost automatically … just like my friends in the audience who caught the balls … automatically …  

If you would like to rather function in a proactive then in a reactive mode and your house is not on fire, you need to be aware of 3 things:

                        your goals,

                        your rules (boundaries, values, needs)

                        you have a choice (ownership + consequences)


But fist let us take a look at a real life example.

You are sitting at your desk (as maybe right now), there are e-mails, telephone calls, “Paul” your co-worker tells you about the meeting later on and what he wants you to prepare until then, “Kathy” asks you to be on a committee with her, your expenses are overdue and the bookkeeping department is in your neck, not to mention the presentation, that you urgently need to prepare for your boss … and on and on and on … Especially with all the instant messaging, sms, blackberry’s, conference calls, e-mails etc. we are driven by urgency and instant reaction.

When do we really take the time to think things through before we take action?

We life in a world of reaction much more then pro-action, because time goes by faster than we can keep up with the information, communication and catching the balls that are in the air.

Have you ever experienced what I am talking about? (You can easily translate that into your life situation and create your own picture about your situation!)

So, what can we do about this?

For once, we could learn to juggle to be able to have more balls in the air at the same time and still keeping them moving smoothly, therefore we can take part in time management seminars. They will give us tools and strategies to be more efficient.

Another approach is to ask yourself, do I really need to catch every ball that is thrown at me? What if I know what I want or need and then make conscious choices?

This brings me back to the 3 concepts I was mentioning earlier:

  1. Take some time to first define your goals (small or big, that doesn’t matter). This can be something like, I want to have 5 new clients by the end of next month, or I want to be known as the worldwide expert in my field by 2015. If you know what is important to you, you can better evaluate, what ball you want to catch, and what ball you just let pass by. You become better focused and therefore most likely more successful.
  2. If you then also know exactly by which rules you are living by, you feel more fulfilled, which will keep you more motivated and authentic. Know your values, set your boundaries and take care of your needs, so you are in a resourceful state.
  3. And lastly: You always have a choice! So often in my coaching praxis people tell me that they can’t change something … that’s not true! You always can, it all depends on the beliefs you are having and of course on the consequences, that might follow (which often are more in your head and don’t necessarily reflect the reality!)

If you feel like you are often stressed and driven by urgency more then by choice, I encourage you to stop being a good boy or good girl who returns every ball that is thrown at you and start to take more ownership over your life, have a clear goal in front of you, define your set of standards, rules and boundaries and become really successful in your own personal ball game!



I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.

Bill Cosby


It's choice - not chance - that determines your destiny.

Jean Nidetch


If you choose not to decide -- you still have made a choice!

Neil Peart


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