This post isn’t entirely about tennis – don’t get weird. Surprisingly, this is about something much bigger.
But we’ll get there – back to tennis. A couple weeks ago my Dad and I started playing tennis regularly on Sunday mornings. To put this scenario in context you should know a few things:
a) I’m not particularly sporty.
b) My father is a born athlete.
c) We aren’t even playing tennis. But I’m about to graduate from mini-tennis any day now – I can feel it.
I’m making progress but find myself frustrated at my lack of accuracy and aim. My Dad’s frequent reply, in almost any sport, is “It’s ok, you just took your eye off the ball.”
To someone who isn’t naturally athletic I can honestly say this is the most frustrating piece of advice.
“I AM keeping my eye on the ball. I WATCHED IT FLY PAST MY FACE.”
Fast forward to today. The reason I enjoy working in communications is because I love writing. Successfully conveying a message, especially a difficult one, is insanely gratifying. So I’m speaking to a coworker at my day job while editing some material and mid-conversation I remember a phrase a dear friend once said while discussing songwriting, and it just felt right. I don’t know where he got it from so I’m attributing it to him – way to go Dan in Japan. I may be paraphrasing, but here’s what I remember:
“Good song-writers don’t write about going outside, they write about the doorknob.”
All of a sudden this meant a lot to me. Good communication isn’t fancy. A finely honed sentence can be just as effective as 3 pages of writing – but damn is that a hard sentence to write. We could get distracted by the door and what’s on the other side – or we could just give in and focus on the doorknob.
The day ends and I head to my voice lesson. Let me say this, I’ve found the right coach – he’s brilliant. In just over a month I already feel like I’ve found a more natural sound. It’s not about forcing my voice to make the sound I want, it’s about letting the natural sound grow into what I want. This is the first time I’ve come across a vocal coach who really gets it.
“We start with the thought in the mind, the intent, that’s what makes the sound happen. It really isn’t that hard.”
Boom. Why has no one said this to me before? Rather than having a mountain to climb I realize I’m already on top. All of a sudden I’m singing non-stop. I can’t get enough of my voice. What I have is actually all that I need. I just needed to be aware and focus on the action rather than the result.
So I’m driving home from my voice lesson and everything hits me:
The key to success is awareness.
Awareness isn’t about power, it’s about balance. Don’t worry about walking through the door or what’s on the other side – focus on the doorknob. Keep your eye on the ball.
He might be on to something.