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Susan Ann Darley
Susan Ann Darley : Step Up to the Plate

Step Up to the Plate

By Susan Ann Darley

It is the 9th inning, two outs, the bases are loaded and Mike's team is behind by three points as he steps up to the plate. In a matter of minutes he can be the game's hero or be blamed for losing the game.

Have you ever felt that type of pressure in the game of life? We feel that way when our perception falls into "all or nothing" thinking. That is when we label others and ourselves as "good or bad" and our experiences as "right or wrong." Such polarized thinking causes us to erect roadblocks to our good and often prevents us from stepping up to our own plate.

Whether Mike has a great day and hits a home run or strikes out — he is the same person. He is not more or less of a person because of the outcome, but the same person with a new experience under his belt. He'll only run into trouble if he chooses to believe it is "good or bad" or if he is influenced by other's opinions.

Let's face it. It feels great to win and help lead our team to success and it feels horrible when we lose. But if Mike has a healthy sense-of-self, he will know, no matter the outcome, that he did the best he could in the moment. More than that, he'll give himself credit for having had the courage to participate.

Sometimes we carry deeply ingrained feelings with us, often from our childhoods, that prevent us from fully participating in life. When I was in third grade, members of my class were chosen to be in a pilot language program on TV. I was elected as an alternate. Yet I turned it down because of fear. So I missed the opportunity to go to a TV studio and enjoy a wonderful life experience.

Have you passed up opportunities to step up to the plate in your life because of childish and fear-based feelings? What if you let go of the shackles of self-judgment and fired the overtly dramatic internal critic and just jumped in and played the game — win or lose?

Ask yourself, what have you been avoiding? Then ask, why? When we sit on the sidelines of our life and watch it go by we carry an emotional burden with us wherever we go. A life not lived with courage and action leads to dread, anger, depression and eventually despair.

We all have our own personal challenges to overcome when we find ourselves sitting in the dugout too long. What's your Achilles heel? Procrastination. All talk. Not completing projects. Fear of rejection. Lack of self-worth.

Or we come up with a host of excuses: Not enough time, money or energy. My lover, spouse, kids, parents need me too much. I'm not ready. Saying no can become habitual, but if the opportunity presents itself — guess what? You are ready!

A client told me she was ready for change. But when I suggested the actions needed on her part to create the change she stopped listening. Sometimes it's more tempting to stay in an old pattern, which no longer serves us than to stretch ourselves by taking action, experiencing awkward moments while we grow into the new pattern.

As an athlete trains to condition his or her body, so must we. More than desire is needed. It takes action. You need to pull out the old by the roots and plant the seeds of change with care and commitment.

And then sometimes slowly or sometimes quickly an opportunity will be there staring you in the face saying, "Come on. Out of the dugout." What will you do? •

© 2006 Susan Ann Darley. All rights reserved.

Susan Ann DarleySusan Ann Darley is a coach, author and workshop leader who works with people from all professions to increase their personal awareness and enhance their creativity. More »

5/3/07