During one of my technical sessions in the weeks leading up to my Canadian departure, my coach challenged me to move beyond the perfectionistic tendency I seem to have on the runway. As I run, pole in hand, I have this tendency to shut the run down when I feel as if things are not “just right”. Whether the bailout is triggered by a weak start in the run, my hips rotating out of position, loosing focus slightly, or the fact that my left shoelace has a single rather than double knot… my natural tendency is to forgo the jump and start again. Too many times I quit on the whole jump because the littlest thing is out of place. You may say, “Well of course Mallory, if you realize your left shoelace might come undone then you should absolutely go back and fix it before you continue the jump! That’s wisdom! I mean seriously, look at how dangerous this sport is!” (clearly exaggeration is not being used here). But this is problematic because very rarely does everything happen just right on the runway. I mean of course the longer you are a pole vaulter the more consistent you will become, but there’s truly only a handful of times in your career you will have the perfect run and perfect conditions; so by failing to complete the jump because of imperfections in my run, I am missing out on ever moving forward or gaining mastery of the skills needed to compete!
I’d like to say that this is not true in other areas of my life (and maybe there are a couple where it’s not) but more often than I’d like to admit I choose to shut things down half way through a project when the condition or execution doesn’t feel quite right. Even in writing for this blog. I haven’t “felt” like the time is right, or that I am in a proper mental place to write, so I put it off for another day. But if I am always waiting for the time to be right, I will never write! And if I am waiting for the run to be perfect I will never take the jump!
My coach pulled me aside and said, “I need you to envision the word QUIT. Now I need you to envision a big red circle around it and a huge line going across… Quit is no longer an option. The only option you have now is FIX. Go home. Write it on your mirror.”
Now every morning when I wake up I see this.
I’d like to say that I always make the decision to take the jump now. And I always make the decision to write. But that would be a lie. It is true however that I have been challenged to move beyond the comfort of perfection and have been choosing to act in imperfection.
You see my coach just needs someone to take the jump. He is deprived of his job if his athletes choose to bail out. How can he correct something that never happens? How can he encourage the progress when his athletes stop running? How will we ever learn from him if we never try?
I think the greatest hindrance to His kingdom coming are his athletes (Yes, I just called you an athlete; the author of Hebrews would as well! please see chapter 12). His athletes who are unwilling to take the jumps; unwilling to SOAR! I’m in awe that the Lord keeps peeling back new layers to this whole SOAR concept, teaching me the same lesson in a million different scenarios, and every time I think I’ve got a grasp on it He shows me another facet of what it means to See Opportunity And Respond. He wants someone who is willing to take the risk. He doesn’t need perfect, He needs willing. So today, are you willing to draw that big circle and line through whatever your excuse to quit is?