Pressure leads to narrow thinking

Pressure leads to narrow thinking

After years of commuting to work with an old minivan (it was really nice when I first bought it), I recently leased a midsize sedan. To say that it drives better than my old hunk of junk is an understatement. It handles well, doesn’t guzzle nearly as much gas, and is far more enjoyable to drive.

Despite all of these benefits, I am much more mindful about accidents than I used to be. The van, to be polite, is not in the best of shape anymore. It has its nicks and bruises, not to mention substantial underbelly rust from 15 combined Chicago/New Jersey winters. Any further damage at this point is not much of a big deal.

In contrast, when I drive the sedan I tend to tense up more quickly, grip the wheel with both hands more often and more firmly than before, while also pulling in my shoulders as if I can somehow make the car narrower that way. Though I took out a damage waiver on the car, I still want to preserve its pristine condition and have been driving much more defensively to avoid contact.

Lessons Learned from the Yankees-Cubs 18 Inning Clash

Lessons Learned from the Yankees-Cubs 18 Inning Clash

Last night’s marathon 18 inning affair between the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs, in which my home team (Yankees) completed the sweep of my nostalgic squad (Cubs – I lived on Chi-Town’s North Side for twelve wonderful years) had all of the drama that a baseball aficionado could possibly ask for. The game pitted two of the best teams vying for victory on nationally televised Sunday Night Baseball. There was great pitching, timely hitting, great defense (did you see that catch by Kyle Schwarber?), a new record set for strikeouts (48), depleted benches and bullpens, and more. You name it, this game had it.

But the part of the game that most resonated with me began in the bottom of the 9th inning. The Yankees brought their dominant closer, Aroldis Chapman – the slayer of the Billy Goat Curse as a Cubs reliever this past October – in to close out a three ruin lead and achieve a series sweep. But a funny thing happened along the way (not so funny if you root for the Yanks). Chapman blew the lead, through a series of walks, well-placed hits, and, to top it off, a hit batsman. With their closer failing to close, manager Joe Girardi had to go to the pen to salvage a tie and move the game into extras.

Leading a More Balanced Playing Field

Leading a More Balanced Playing Field

Recently, I participated in a Passover hotel retreat with my family in the Catskill Mountain region of New York State. The program organizers worked hard to keep everyone – old and young alike – busy throughout the week with entertainment and activities that offered fun and recreation. One such activity was a game room, which was set up in the hotel’s expansive lobby.

My eleven year old son asked me to play some of the games with him. One game in particular, a basketball game, had two small hoops within a close distance of each other and a collection of rubber kid-sized basketballs. The objective was to score as many baskets as possible within a 30 second timeframe. I did pretty well all things considered (I hadn’t shot for a while, just sayin’,) but after each round ended I looked up to see that my son had beaten me yet again.

I am pretty confident that had I played him on a regular basketball court with a standard-sized ball he would have stood little chance of achieving even a single victory. Not that I am so great, mind you, but my size advantage and experience would have carried me to victory. However, once the playing field changed, with different equipment, a playing field of different proportions, and no defense, all of my competitive advantages fell by the wayside.

As I considered my neutralized position in this indoor game of hoops I began to reflect upon other situations where people seem to hold advantages, not because they are intrinsically better or more talented, but because of some other factors or considerations.