Intro... Cricket is spiritual.
I was reading an article on Alistair Cook, who plays cricket for England. He is a brilliant sportsman and an essential part of the cricket team. He has come under criticism for his recent poor run of form, but then had a few good games. He has done the sporting equivalent of "rising from the dead".
He was recently interviewed and talked at length about what he changed in his game to bring about a successful turnaround. There was something that he said that struck me. When asked about how he had changed his batting strategy he; and I paraphrase here, said that he had 'let the bowler come to him' rather than going out on a limb, unprotected.
He had established his strengths and had developed the discipline to let balls go past that do not allow him to hit his best. He only chose that which gave him the desired outcome. What he said rang true for me. When do we "let things come to us?"
What is your "best?"
Best is a strange word. It can mean something as one dimensional as whether we get the highest score in an exam, or whether we run the fastest in a 100m sprint. But it could also be referencing an incredibly nuanced outcome, such as the "best outcome" for a foreign policy or best outcome for a loved one. Whatever context the word "best" is used in, it seems to imply favourable or right. It seems to mean that which is the very (positive) limits of that parameter.
However, when we turn it round and apply "best" to us, or to our character, we feel instantly different, don't we? Best no longer means "outer parameters" or "most hopeful and greatest thing that we could ask for" but instead becomes constrained by our own selves. Best as defined by ourselves could become limiting or limited to our own past experiences, future dreams and past hurts. Best becomes something distinctly less. But our best can come from understanding our strengths.
Discovering your strengths
What is a strength? What does it look and feel like? I am on a discovery journey and have a feeling that I will never find all of what God has placed in me. God is that infinite, and has made me that intricately. I have confidence that I will discover what I need to, when I need to. But let me take it right back to cricket.
Perhaps defining a strength is about seeing where it is you feel most comfortable "taking a hit" from. That does not mean stress and fatigue but it means doing it, being active and engaged. If you feel comfortable doing this thing and you can score points, not just 1 or 2 but hit the boundaries as well then you have found a personal strength. I would probably say that a strength looks like doing something where you feel authentic.
But having discovered it, I now have to ask. How do I utilise this place of strength to succeed at life? And this is where I come back to what Alistair Cook said.
He let the bowler come to him
I find myself at times striving for what appears on the surface to be a better job or a better life for myself. I am always the one making the effort. I can find the experience incredibly tiring. The more I sell myself, the less convinced I am of my own "unique selling point". I was incredibly tired and jaded from this experience one time.
But I suddenly found that if I turned the chase round in my head, it felt different. What do I mean by that? Usually, we chase employers. We think about what an employer wants or needs and then you adapt your CV to fit. Let me take it out more widely.
We chase after; stuff, friends, money, recognition etc. This comes from our whole selves, rather than our specific strengths. In our chasing, we may well be using our strengths, but like Alistair Cook, a bowler can catch you out if you lean out to hit the ball on your unprotected side. In life, if we lean out to hit at all that which is coming at us, we leave ourselves vulnerable to attack.
On the other hand, if we learn instead to pick out the good balls and reject that which is not good, we will score. Let me make this personal for a second. Rather than saying "I want to find a husband", how would it look instead if I said " I want my husband to find me...". It is the same idea, but totally different emphasis.
Let's pick the best bowls
I want to encourage you to pick and choose wisely what you do. I have found that when I have considered things more closely before saying yes, I have found it more beneficial, and more satisfying. Let us not say yes to everything, but instead yes to that which allows us to hit from our strengths and not our weaknesses. I am still learning what my strengths and areas for growth are.
I believe in God's unending grace for me for those times when I just "had a go" but I also believe that God would want me to mature in my understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. Let's bat from our strengths and go for our century test match. Allow the bowler to come to you.
Rosie Robinson resides in Manchester where, in between feeding herself coffee and bagels she works for an international financial services organisation. She attends a lively church called Audacious, enjoys reading, running and watching films and slowly discovering life with Jesus.
Rosie Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosie-robinson.html