Own Your Next Shot

What are you doing to get inspired, to push your boundaries, or tap into that spark that moves you forward? If you’ve ever felt like you just need a little jolt to jump start your own momentum, try something new.

For Christmas last year, my husband gave me a package of tennis lessons. For me. Just me. Not for our kids. Not for himself. For me. Yikes. Now, if you know us, you’re well aware that he’s an avid tennis player (and I’ll boast a little bit – he’s pretty good, too!). My kids also love to pick up anything with a ball, bat, or racquet. It’s a joy to watch them. Yet despite the years and years of my own time playing soccer, basketball, swimming, lacrosse, skiing, and more, these days I’m pretty much just the mini-van driver who gets them to all their games, practices, matches, lessons, and more. I show up with snacks, cheer like a super proud mama, and even jump in as interim coach when the head coach is out of town. Basically, I know my role in this joyous season of life!

I haven’t played competitively since club and intramural sports in college. Sadly, I went down with an ACL tear in a sorority flag football league my junior year (please don’t judge, y’all; we had so much fun!). After that encounter and the 2-year recovery period it took to get back to almost normal, I pretty much called it quits on anything that required contact on a field or a court. Since that moment, something has been missing for me. Growing up, team sports fueled me deep inside. They’re truly ingrained in my DNA, which is pretty much how I fell in love with group fitness as time moved on.

As an adult, I’ve been a true fitness professional, teaching group fitness classes in all my free time for over 15 years. The group effect of working out with others has been a driving force to keep me going. Let’s be honest, though – that means riding stationary bikes, doing yoga on a mat, and getting my heart rate up in about a 40-square foot studio space for 15 years. So, when my husband surprised me with tennis lessons over the holidays, I got excited, and pretty nervous at the same time. Could I do it? Was I ready? Who in the world has time for this? I freaked out a bit. No joke.

I was anxious, scared, and worried. I had a huge fear that people would silently judge me for being an almost 40-something trying to jump into a game I had no business playing. I was concerned I wouldn’t have enough time to make reasonable progress and would probably just flounder through this lesson 5-pack and be ready to call it quits. Thanks, but no thanks on the Christmas gift, honey. I was pretty much petrified on all levels, even though this should have totally been in my wheelhouse. Sports, movement, activity, competition, and teamwork. It was everything that should make sense to me and drive me, but I was scared.

In a funny way, I think my husband knew all of that. He knew I would be nervous, pressed for time to commit, and I would never truly dive into the sport if he didn’t push me toward the court. So, he did it. He presented me with the lesson package on Christmas morning (artfully disguised in an empty jewelry gift box, I might add), and after a month of the paper certificate sitting on my nightstand waiting to be redeemed, he finally made me sign up for those lessons. Why? Because he knew I needed to do something just for me. He knew I needed something that would spark my interest, push me to accomplish something new, and get me out of my comfort zone to the place I used to thrive. He knew all of that was just what I needed – and he was right.

I’m trying not to get hung up on the whole “I told you so” concept, but he deserves all the credit on this one. He was spot-on with what would propel me forward. This was exactly what I needed. I needed fire, I needed something to strive for, and I needed to feel engaged in something just for me again. He saw how motivated I was when my friends convinced me to train for and run my first half marathon last year, and how the energy, commitment, and mental game behind the preparation for that event truly transformed me. He knows me well. So, when the training was over, the race was run, and the winter months set in, he knew I needed more. Dang. He’s always right!

So, here’s the moral of the story: push yourself, and don’t hold back. Try something new. Find what fuels you and do something that will get you into your own fire tunnel. I was lucky to have friends and family who challenged me to take a leap and become a better version of me, and I’m so glad I listened. That said, they won’t always be there to tell you or me exactly what to do, so own your next shot. Groundstroke, volley, overhead, or serve – it doesn’t matter which shot you take – just own it. You get to make the call, and go for it.

But wait: You’re busy. You don’t have time. Your family comes first. You have a full-time job that needs so much focus right now. Trust me – I’m with you. I have that job, that family, and none of the extra time. I’ve heard it all, right in my own head. I’ve said all those things to myself day after day after day and made zero progress at life. So how did I fix it? I pushed through it. I said yes to those tennis lessons and I ignored the chatter. I let myself unleash into something new, something different, something hard. By the way, this tennis thing is hard, but I love it. The fact that I have to work hard at it while I continue to show up and try harder is what keeps me going.

Challenge yourself to do something for you. It will, without a doubt, make you better at all that you do – at home, at work, at school, and wherever else you’re called to play. I promise you that. Find something that pushes you, something that grows you, something that makes you a stronger version of you. When you do, you’ll find the time you need. You’ll make it work. You may have to set down one thing to pick up another, but you’ll get back to it. It will be there waiting for you when you’re ready. In the meantime, you’ll become your best you, and all the other things that keep you busy, pressured, and tight on time will work themselves out. They’ll fit into each and every week because you’re more driven, more focused, and more passionate about life. You’re more YOU. Go be you. You need this, and I want to see you shine too, on and off the court.


Take Your Time and Enjoy

So often in life we rush. We move quickly to fit as much into our day as possible, and ironically forget to appreciate the precious moments in between all the hustle. I’m such a victim to this harsh reality, and it’s time to slow down.

I realized recently as I was committing to another volunteer project, a half marathon training team with my girlfriends, and a few other things to add to the mix, I’m not taking on too much, but I am forgetting to slow down enough to enjoy the beauty in each individual opportunity. There are so many great things in life to enjoy, and it is possible – but we have to commit to the enjoyment. Whether it is time with family, discussions at work, a book to read, or conversations with friends, it all matters. We can spend quality time in each arena if we’re focused, not frantic.

I’ve been frantic for too long, worrying that I’m not getting it all done to the best of my ability. Well, face it sister – that’s okay. Just be present. Just engage positively. Just do your best in that moment, and it will all work out.

If you’re a type-A planner, organizer, and thinker of things on the horizon like I am, it becomes so easy to lose sight of what’s right here before us. It can be instinctive to focus too much on the finish line rather than on the mile we’re tackling in the moment. Yes, I need to start thinking in running terms if I’m going to make this half marathon thing happen…yikes!

When I look at my sweet little boys and see the joy in their eyes and the love they have for each experience they encounter, I realize how simply we can truly live our lives. We just need to focus on enjoying the bike ride, splashing in the pool, coloring outside the lines, and swinging for the fences with each pitch thrown our way. These guys live each moment with energy, passion, and the will to have simple and wonderful fun. They’re spontaneous, loving, and ready to run at any given moment.

So, let’s find our own ways to run, jump, and play. Let’s breathe in the happiness around us, focus on the now, and the rest will fall into place. We can still plan, think ahead, and take on projects and opportunities to enhance our own growth, as long as we find our balance and capture the joy that comes along with each day, embracing a few more of the moments that are here right now. Let’s just take our time and enjoy.


As we approach the close of a month filled with celebrations of great food, fun, loved ones, and time spent reflecting on what we’re thankful for, its important to not only be thankful, but to also embrace the spirt of giving. Whether we donated to a meaningful cause on #givingtuesday or found a way to simply enrich the lives of others, I hope we all made our distinct and impactful contributions.

As leaders in business, it’s important to think about giving daily. Let’s pay it forward and always aim to help others learn, grow, and achieve. Let’s prioritize the education and development process for our teams, and ensure everyone is set up with the tools and resources it takes to succeed. Let’s clearly communicate our support, so we can inspire those around us to do the same. When we give with our hearts and ingrain these actions into our daily lives, the spirit is contagious, and it naturally multiplies the good around us.

Seasonally, its everywhere, but the challenge becomes continuing this illuminating power of giving well beyond what we feel and see today. Taking action and making sure we embrace the spirit of giving in our daily lives is what truly makes a difference in our companies, our communities, and beyond. When we give each day, perhaps just starting with a little more intentional effort on teaching and opening doors for those right around us, we can inspire, support, and help everyone succeed.

Let’s give thanks to those who have invested in us, and think about how we’ll invest in others. Actions speak louder than words, so let’s take a moment to do the right thing and give with our hearts. Let’s give knowledge, give support, or just give a listening ear, and be fully present and intentional every day of the year.

Leadership First

Have you ever stopped to think about the real difference between management and leadership? It’s funny how so often we have jobs that are titled “Manager” of this or that, and it’s so far from how we should really be approaching our actual roles each day.

Maybe in the sense of process, it’s okay to be a manager. We can literally manage the steps, the details, the deadlines, and the line items on an excel grid that need to be accomplished to complete a task. If your job is transactional in every way, then go ahead – manage away.

If, however, your role is about relationships and working with others, the game changes. If what you do centers around interacting with people (and let’s be honest – most of us work with tons of people every day), then I challenge you to set down your management stick and pick up your leadership hat to transform how you do what you do. You and your team will thank you for it.

Do you ever find yourself just trying to knock things off your to-do list to get them off your back? Do you get to the office each morning (or worse yet, sit on your couch each night) and power through a load of emails that landed in your inbox in an attempt to get ahead for the day, rather than lag behind? In the essence of time, do you fire off one-line responses that, whether you know it or not, might get taken wildly out of context and come across as cold, rude, abrupt, or even angry with just a few short words? Do you ever find yourself justifying that behavior by saying things like, “Oh, please don’t ever take my emails to heart. I’m usually just pressed for time and trying to get back to you quickly.”

Yep. We’ve all done it, and we may start our day out feeling accomplished and on schedule, but who do we harm along the way? When you’re a true leader, relationships should always be your top priority. Before you sit back down at your desk and reply, take a moment to think about your response. You may want to consider the human element in all that you do. It’s not hand-holding or coddling, it’s being thoughtful and professional. Think about the people who work with you, and how your actions will impact their experience, and their future. Do you want your team to see your willingness to help them grow and learn, or to fear they might upset you and always be watching their backs? Do you want your peers to know you’re a team player who is eager to work together, not in opposition, to accomplish a greater goal? Do you want to show how you’re a thoughtful and strategic partner with a vision for the future growth of your company?

Be the good in what you do, and don’t be known as the one who tackles each day as a reactive and impulsive task-master. Think about the people you work with directly and indirectly, put those relationships first, and you’ll see engagement, development, and productivity skyrocket. Be thoughtful and careful with each word you use (written or spoken), because each individual word counts. You don’t have to take a lot of time to be thoughtful, but you do have to choose your approach wisely. Maybe sometimes it actually means picking up the phone (so old-fashioned, I know!), to embrace the human element and engage in conversation. Your spoken word may land very differently than your written word, no matter how many times you’ve put pen to paper and thought you got it right.

Leaders think about people first, not just process. When leaders elevate others, act respectfully, and put effort into their relationships, the processes falls into place and is the natural next step. It might take more effort, and maybe a little more time, but the ROI is unparalleled. Grow your team, your business, and your future by being a leader, not just a manager, no matter what title is written on your business card.