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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Are You Playing Offense Or Defense?


You don't have to be an athlete to know the difference between offense and defense. But let me define them in terms of this article.

Offense - To attempt to gain more. To reach out. To experiment with new approaches or ideas. To take initiatives to extend your success.

Defense - to protect or guard. To hold on to what you have. To observe, detect or watch. Playing it safe and cautious.

You may take issue with some of my above definition points, but read on and you will know why I chose these words. What do these two life approaches have to do with success?
There are two ways to live life - to grow, extend, learn, experiment, try, create and move or wait, hang on, protect, hope and cling to what is comfortable and known.

Which do you think;

Adds a sense of adventure to life?
Helps you achieve more?
Is more fun and yes risky?
Prevents boredom, malaise and apathy?
Triggers new answers, solutions and tactics?

If you are not sure, of the answers to these questions I have to wonder if you are locked in a cave somewhere peering out now and then to see if it's safe to come out in the open.
Creativity is built into each of us, but the demonstration and use of it is often curtailed due to any number of fears, memories or concern for the uncertainties of life.

Victim's mindsets tend to keep them stuck in a victim mentality and they seldom try anything new assuming it will just bring more of the same - disappointment, failure, frustration, anxiety and stress - so why bother - just stay the same, doing the same things in the same way.

Offense is reaching out and trying knowing that not everything may work out in the end, but it is better than remaining stuck. Defense is safe, but it prevents growth, new learning and ultimate happiness, inner peace and success.
Show me any athletic team that consistently wins by only playing a great defense. Yes, going on offense can increase failure, problems and adversity, but consider the opposite - you can't win if you don't score and to score you have to go on offense.

No one likes failure, but it is necessary to succeed. No one likes problems but they can help us grow if we will use them as learning tools. No one likes adversity, but it is just one of life's circumstances no matter whether you are on defense or offense.

What's your life strategy? Playing offense or defense or playing them both when appropriate?
Yes, there are times when we need to be on defense, but to remain stuck in a defense mindset due to fear will never advance our objectives, goals or agendas - sooner or later you have to play offense to improve outcomes.

Why do some people spend most of their life on defense?
There are far too many reasons, but let me discuss the three most common ones.

Fear -
The number one reason people fail to go on offense is they are unsure whether they can handle what their actions will bring into their life. They feel safe on defense. They feel in control, but this control is an illusion as God doesn't want us to stay on defense - He wants us to make a difference in the world with the talents, skills and opportunities He places on our path. When we live a life on defense we fail to achieve our potential and live a joyful and productive experience. Yes, the ability to play defense is vital, but to stay stuck in this mindset is counterproductive.

Uncertainty - Nothing in life is certain nor will it ever be. To always expect your plans, goals, needs and desires to be accomplished as you have established or determined is to live in denial and emotional immaturity. The only thing we can do in life is live and then handle what comes our way using our wisdom, experience and lessons to address these issues with confidence and faith.

Low self-esteem - We all know what self-esteem is - it's simply how you define yourself - your ability, your talent, your experience, your life outlook and your self-worth. A person playing defense tends to have low self-esteem - they don't believe they are capable of dealing with life's issues in a positive or productive way.
They believe that the best approach in life is to hope, wait and then react. Yes, life demands this of us frequently, but in the end - always being on defense prevents the expression of free will, trust and self-belief.
In the end life is just that - life. It comes at us relentlessly each moment of each day. We can take a protective stance and just deal with stuff as it shows up or we can take initiative and keep moving forward. It's a simple choice - but not an easy task.
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