You Can't Win If You Don't Play
by Shannon Baker
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
My father was an optimist and a risk-taker, a meticulous planner with an analytical mind. He was a product of Zig Zigler and Norman Vincent Peale.
Now days, I think they call it The Secret or maybe See it, believe it, achieve it.
Me? Not so much. I learned early that if I visualized success in detail it wouldn’t come true.
At the end of my eighth grade year I tried out for the pom-pom squad. I don’t mind telling you, I was great. I learned the moves and had the smile. I saw myself in those cute uniforms, hanging out with the cool kids and having a boyfriend—because all the pom-pom girls had boyfriends.
When they announced the new squad I sat on the bleachers knowing the next name called would be mine. I believed in the very fiber of my being. They called name after name and none of them was mine. There had to be a mistake because I was destined to be on that team. Days later, when I had to admit they weren’t going to bring me from class and tell me about the terrible misunderstanding of my votes being tallied wrong (I visualized this scene in detail also) the pain of failure crushed my heart. Oh, it was okay, I told everyone. I was moving to another state anyway and it didn’t matter.
A few months later they had try-outs for freshmen cheerleaders at my new school. I was new and the student body voted so there was no way I’d get picked. I didn’t hope for it. Guess what? I got it.
Lesson learned. Don’t want it too badly. Don’t visualize too intricately. If you win it will be glorious. If you lose, no big deal.
The youngest of three kids, I have this idea the Universe functions sort of like my family. If the Universe finds out I want something really badly, it will tease me and thwart me and I’ll end up getting hurt.
Although I never really believe I’ll win the jackpot, it doesn’t keep me from putting in my chips. My life philosophy has always been: You can’t win if you don’t play.
Almost every good thing in my life happened not because I believed it would or even dreamed about it. Mostly, things happen because I think, “Why not try?”
I might as well put an effort into my day job. I’ve got to spend at least eight hours a day somewhere earning a living; I ought to make it enjoyable and challenging.
I never thought I’d get a novel published but why not keep writing and sending stuff out? What else was I going to do with my spare time since I’m really bad at crafts? While I was going to write I might as well study craft and become versed in the way the business works.
I know I should write goals and plan timelines. I’ve gone to enough inspirational speakers, read Covey’s advice, taken management courses that Lebowski’s Little Achievers would envy.
I don’t do any of that. I keep my future plans vague in case the Universe is plotting against giving me what I really want.
What I do is show up. Work hard. Be adaptable. Try not to take myself too seriously.
I’ll never know what it was like to be a pom-pom girl and it might always hurt just a little. But since then, I’ve had a really great ride.