In my last article, “Game Films,” I spoke about how these films can aid you to look at yourself introspectively and, as a result, enable you to learn what is broken, so that you can devise plans for how to better cope the next time around. However, sometimes that isn’t true. If you’re anything like me, seeing my shortcoming, or where I’ve erred, doesn’t always initiate growth.
Quite the contrary, it can cause me to react 180 degrees the opposite. I become lethargic, feel depressed and hopeless, and wind up beating myself up for my mistakes. The end result is that I feel worse. I see what needs to be improved and the action I have to take, but I don’t do it. This causes a pyramid effect, because I then feel worse for not correcting what I already feel bad about having done. That’s where football can once again come to your aid.
You see, a football team doesn’t have a choice. They have to play their next game. The schedule already is made; so they’re forced to go out on to the field again if they don’t want to experience shame, embarrassment, loss of pride or the scorn of their fans. Even more, they’re expected to play better the next time. In order to do that, they have to devise a new, improved game plan. Once they’ve reviewed their last game film, they design a new set of actions, behaviors, procedures and techniques that they hope will enable them to perform better the following week. Simplistically, that’s exactly the process we human beings need to follow.
Step 1: You need to look at your last Game Film with the attitude that you always can improve. The purpose being to benefit from the mistakes you made the previous week by learning from them.
In most instances, you won’t have any problem recognizing them. Most people have too great a capacity to be “pretty darn good Monday morning quarterbacks.” That means that, in most instances, your hindsight regarding your past mistakes light up. Once you see them, however, the major difficulty you face is to determine a more productive or positive way to perform the next time around.
It’s kind of like saying something without thinking, and then a voice inside says, “I can’t believe that came out of my mouth,” or “I really put my foot in it this time.” But, the rule is, never punish yourself for what you did, although you probably should for not learning from it. You see, once you’ve erred, you can’t take it back. All you can do is try to make it better. Essentially, that’s what game plans are all about. It’s a process that involves you constantly honing and correcting your behaviors today in order to enable you to improve and grow emotionally, tomorrow.
Step 2: Recognize that the one most- essential aspect of making a game plan is that you discover a better way of acting and reacting in the future. Game plans aren’t statements of intention. Nor are they promises to try to grow or change, which you may never quite get around to. Game plans need to be adhered to. They aren’t always right, prefect or successful. When they aren’t, or when you don’t execute them well, they need to be modified and improved upon, but only after you’ve first given them a chance. They are intended to direct, guide and motivate you to take action, despite your trepidations, your emotional malaise or your fear of failure.
Thus, they not only point you in a specific direction, but implicit in making them is the notion that once you recognize your errors, you can improve and grow. The rule being that recognition of your mistakes, as opposed to excusing them or closing your eyes to them, enables you to see the light at the end of the tunnel that you previously perceived yourself trapped in.
Step 3: Know that similar to New Year resolutions, you may not execute or consistently live up to your game plans. However, once you’ve formulated them, they become real and you can use them over and over again as goals towards which you can repeatedly direct your efforts and energy in the future. Even when you don’t fully achieve them, they still exist and your energies can always be redirected toward reaching them.
Accordingly I’d have you make a journal. Purchase some file cards or a small tablet. Keep them on your person and, on those occasions when you find yourself hiding from, closing your eyes to, ration-alizing, justifying, or trying to repress your honest insights, write them down before you unconsciously block them out. Consider them your Game Film. Then, go one step further, look at them straight in the eye and ask yourself, “What could I have done differently, what should I have said, or what can I say or do now to improve the way I feel about me?”
Let me caution you again: Your insights are not intended to cause guilt, to provoke shame or to embarrass you. They are, instead, designed to emphasize the fact that, “everyone makes mistakes” but just lamenting them isn’t constructive. You need to do something to correct them. Think about it: Every religion acknowledges the fallibility and imperfections of its members. They even go a step further; they provide a means of rectifying and alleviating the guilt attached to them in order to enable you to live better in the future.
So, Protestants ask Jesus for forgiveness, Catholics have confession and Jews have the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), which serves as a once-a-year opportunity to atone for the mistakes they’re made the previous 12 months. The one prevailing notion is: You can relegate your sins to the past; eliminate your guilt in the present and discover peace, forgiveness and redemption in the future. Perhaps, another term for them is “game plans.”