Today’s sacrifice

When a close friend and I started playing tennis a few week’s back, the quality of our game was woeful. We had both learned a bit of tennis a few years back but were very out of touch. Since we both were competitive, we chose to play with points. However, our rallies were short and full of unforced errors. A few week’s later, our games are much better. Playing once a week goes a long way in bringing about a certain rhythm and activating our muscle memory. But, a factor that I’ve realized helps my improvement is one I call “today’s sacrifice.”

Right from our first game, I picked one aspect of my game to sacrifice. For example, on day one, my serve didn’t work. But, instead of going for a tame serve that gets the ball in, I focused on making it better and lost plenty of points in the process. This didn’t work in the first game and through most of the second as well. But, come the third game, my serve began working a fair bit. Now that I’d climbed the steepest part of the serve hill, it was time to work on the next shot.

It sounds incredibly simple – as you jump into play, set a learning goal (Anders Ericsson would call it “purposeful practice”) and sacrifice a bit of today’s productivity for tomorrow’s growth. But, its applications can be mind blowing if applied to everything we do.

This is the goose and golden eggs fable all over again – easy to understand but nowhere as easy to apply. We know that today’s investments will lead to more growth and productivity. But, caught in the throes of the day-to-day, it is so easy to push today’s learning away and just focus on maximizing current production. Perhaps the way to do it is simply to implement this idea in every aspect of our lives – in a way we think nothing of it when we do it. Perhaps we do this by scheduling 30 minutes every day to do one of the following – learn something that might be useful or, if you haven’t done so, getting a bit of sleep, getting some healthy food, going to the gym, or picking a book that will help us grow. Over time, maybe we’d expand the sacrifice time to an hour, maybe even two.

After all, today’s sacrifice is tomorrow’s reward.

Thanks to Kidsworldfun for the image

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