I took a break from my current writing project—an update of The Art of Pickleball--and headed to the living room. I'm not much on watching lots of TV, but I adore Shark Tank. (If you haven't watched this program, I urge you to give it a try.) I like the original sharks, but one of my other favorites is Chris Sacca, an investor in major online platforms, such as Twitter, Uber, Instagram, and Kickstarter; he also owns & operates Lowercase Capital, a venture capital fund.
That evening, I heard Chris say to one of the entrepreneurs, “Ideas are cheap. Execution is everything.” I hit the pause button. This line hit home with me personally, of course: I've had the idea to update that book for some time, yet I'd delayed getting started. It also occurred to me that this quote has a wider audience than just my own introspection. It affects anyone tackling any endeavor, and that includes someone striving to get better at pickleball.
We all have great intentions. It's the follow-on that matters. Perhaps you read a blog post (like this one) and get fired up, saying, "I'll be fearless when I hit the court tomorrow, and I'll put into play all the new lessons I just learned." Then, the next morning, your intention wanes—perhaps someone invites you to breakfast, or you have a sore back, or you just don't feel like going, or - or - or . . . Or you get there, but you lose your concentration when you make a lousy shot . . . You know the drill.
I looked up information about Chris Sacca and discovered he's said and written other things that are equally applicable on the journey to better pickleball and for our lives in general. Here are a few I thought were particularly valuable.
- “What happens next is up to you.” Sounds too simple to be important, but your path to better pickleball is an uphill climb. You have choices. Don't forget that one of them is to stop and say, "This might be good enough," and nothing's wrong with that. But if you're not satisfied where you are, read this quote again and get busy.
- “I'm good at what I do and still improving as I learn from mentors, founders, partners, friends, family, strangers, my own investors, and the experience itself.” My takeaway from this is:
1) Don't forget to acknowledge your success thus far, as you climb the ladder toward 3.0, 4.0, or 5.0. Then scan your weaknesses and seek the help of those who can steer you toward an easier resolution. Get some coaching. A few sessions with a good coach can propel you forward and give you a needed emotional boost.
2) Open up to mentoring from those who can and wish to teach. Watch the good players and don't be afraid to approach them. Your best games are always with players who are better than you. The worst that can happen is they say no, but many are glad to help, as long as the time is right. Be open to suggestions and strain the information to find what works for you.
- “Never. Stop. Selling.” Sounds silly in a post about pickleball? Not if you change the word "selling" to "practicing," "learning," or "trying." Any endeavor that's worth doing requires hard work. Becoming good at pickleball is no different. When it seems like every good shot you make is overbalanced by two in the net, don't give up. Never give up.
- For those of you who are truly intent on being the best and reaching the podium at the big tournaments, Chris says, “You have to ask yourself, you have to be honest. Do you really have what it takes? Are you incredibly unreasonable? Do you have an irrational sense of the inevitability of the success of what you’re building, or are you just here because it’s fashionable?” I included this because it's worth questioning whether you have it in you to get there (wherever you've set your sight). As I said earlier, perhaps reaching 3.5 or 4.0 is just fine, if you're balancing pickleball with a day job and a set of twins at home. Nothing says you must keep ascending the ladder, or at least not at a breakneck pace. Still, if the podium is what you want, what are you doing reading this? Get down to the courts. :-)