for Donna & Nick
I played in a tennis league recently of women of varying abilities. All nice people, earnest and eager to hit the ball, but you moved up or down the courts based on your number of wins or losses.
When I emerged with the highest score, I moved up a court. When I missed a week or played badly, I moved down.
We took over courts 3-6, so on courts 3 and 4, you found a fierce match of strategic, strong players. On court 5, it was catch-as-catch-can – sometimes a good game, sometimes a bore.
On court 6, you had nice ladies up in their years who, well, don’t like to move much. If you found yourself on court 6, you surely wouldn’t break a sweat.
Since I was the league newbie, I started on court 6 and for the first few weeks, hovered on the lower courts. I didn’t love the league at first, and now I know why. By the time I rose to court 4, I found the play more compelling, my opponents more powerful and was surprised to see that I played better when I played against better players.
A friend made a New Year’s Resolution to be very mindful of the people he surrounds himself with. A wise choice, as we rise – or fall – in character, integrity and achievement based on the people we run with.
The poor ladies on court 6 meant no harm; they simply don’t move much, for fear of falling or perhaps it’s that they’ve lived enough years to decide that the ball should come to them more than the other way around.
But when I was paired with them, I found myself playing down to their level, moving less, missing more. When I was matched up against the players on higher courts, who aspired to win, who saw the ball and went toward it, instead of waiting for it to meander to them, well, I played better, fiercer, stronger.
Isn’t that the way life is?
It’s an ancient notion that when you surround yourself with high achievers, go-getters, business owners, success stories, you rise to the inspiration around you.
When you surround yourself with ne’er-do-wells, bums, and people generally dissatisfied with life, well, they bring you down to their level.
Where would you rather be?