Pick up the Pace – Part 2

tennis racket

Last week I wrote a post entitled “Pick Up the Pace” where I likened my leadership growth to my tennis game.  I loved the analogy so much I’ve continued to process it.  Here are some more of my thoughts:


When my tennis coach forces me to pick up the pace, I’ve discovered that I become laser focused.  I’m no longer thinking or worrying about whether the players on the other courts are watching me and noticing all my errors, I’m no longer worried about what I’m wearing and whether I’m sweating profusely, and I’m not watching the clock.  Nope.  All of these things that have a tendency to distract me are no longer an issue because I HAVE to focus.  At this pace it’s no longer an option to be distracted.  I’m concerned about my opponent, the ball and my racket – that’s it!  And that’s enough.  Because quite honestly I don’t think my capacity has really increased.  I wish I could say that I’ve transformed into Serena Williams, but I haven’t.

I’m still me with my capacity…

…and in order to operate at this pace of play I have to focus.

And if I focus, I am better… at what’s most important.

What’s important to me has been redefined.  Increased pace challenges me to focus on the things that really matter.  And if I’m on that court, the only things that really matter are what’s happening on that court.

Are you seeing the parallel?  What’s on your leadership court these days?  What do you need to focus on?  What do you need to block out from the sidelines?

As leaders we have a tendency to want to do it all.  And oftentimes we think we should be able to do it all.  But we are setting ourselves up for exhaustion and burnout.  Yes, your pace is going to pick up, but you’ll only be able to maintain that if you learn to be laser focused.

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  • Linnae Hoppe May 14, 2009  

    Love this! Right now I’m learning how I can best lead by myself. There will be a time when I will be leading others, but right now I have to take charge of the ownership I’ve been given here in the ministry.

    I need to focus on establishing a great framework for the ministry so that we can be ready for growth, or whatever the Lord has for us. Establishing the new website, putting databases together, organizing, praying, etc.

    What do I need to blockout? Great question. I think the thing for me is that I have to be so intentional about my schedule! Every minute I have is so precious so I need to figure out where the Lord is asking me to invest, and then commit to those 2 or three things and trust Him with the rest!

  • brewster May 14, 2009  

    You might be the new @jennimaxwell! I love this analogy. I have actually shared it with a few others. Can not wait to hear about the serve, the topspin lob, and attacking the net. 🙂

    Seriously good stuff.

  • slamdunk May 14, 2009  

    I agree–useful analogy. I think focusing takes practice, and it is something I certainly should spend more time developing.

    Best wishes with your tennis game and God bless you in your ministry.

  • kevinwlloyd May 14, 2009  

    GREAT analogy. I needed that today. Thanks for leading other leaders through your blog.

  • Nick May 14, 2009  

    I am at a transitional stage in my life where I am just discovering what it is in my new role that I MUST focus on and those things that I have to put on the sideline because they are distracting me. I am going through those questions of, “What is the most important thing(s) I need to be dealing with right now?” It hasn’t been fun, but I am learning it is necessary.

  • jan owen May 14, 2009  

    Jenni, I’m not sure I can relate to this right now. I feel like my pace has been out of control for so long and the distractions are on the court with me, not on the sidelines. I feel like I cannot SLOW DOWN enough to focus well. Most days I want to yell “stop!!!!” and go home and shut the door so I can actually move ahead a bit.

    It’s a great analogy. I’m just at a weird place right now where I’ve felt overwhelmed for too long by too many things…….

  • Jenni Catron May 14, 2009  

    @Jan – you just need to clear the court and restart the game. Hang in there, friend!

  • lisapbjcreations May 14, 2009  

    I am needing more focus ,but with the kids heading home for the summer it is doubtful that I will be able to find it ! Going to chew on this one for sure.

  • jan owen May 15, 2009  

    Jenni, I have been thinking about this more and there is one way in my life that I see this happening and that is my personal life. When the game gets intense, I’m always the one that loses. I’ll do for everyone else and skip exercising, resting, being with my family even – all very unhealthy. God really showed me clearly this spring that He was indeed about to pick up the pace in my life and that I needed to prepare. His instructions were clear:

    1) Strengthen my body
    2) Write a book proposal
    3) Clean out my house

    Not sure what’s coming but I’m trying to do these three things in the meantime. So although the pace of the last few weeks has felt brutal, I have done all three. Not everyday but I’ve done them. I have no idea what God has in store for me – I’m still waiting for the next big step to be revealed, but I am focusing on getting ready.