Accepting and standing up to the challenge

Tennis must be on the mind because it’s popping up as the topic again this week!  I promise there’s something more to this message, so please read on.  Today I faced an old foe on the tennis court.  I could have avoided this entire situation had I just taken my team captain up on her offer to let me take the weekend off.  But no, I told her I’d play the match.  Stupid move?  I sure thought so when I drove up and saw my old nemesis from the other team.  Of course she had to be there!  And, you guessed it, of course, my partner and I had to play against her and another strong player from their team.  ARGH!!!  It’s bad enough that I was so frustrated by my old nemesis in the past and that I NEVER won against her when we played each other years ago.  To top it off she had to be paired up with another strong player who I knew had good shots.  Oh boy, panic time.  No turning back now.  Might as well take it on and do my best.  I decided not to tell my partner about my previous losing streak against this woman (smart, right?) and we proceeded to play our match.  There were times when my hands were shaking I was so nervous.  And sometimes I couldn’t even get a serve in, especially when I was serving to my old nemesis (she’s no longer a nemesis, by the way).  But overall, it went better than I could ever imagine!  We won the match with a 6-0, 7-5 score.  We gave them a bagel in the first set!  My goodness, I never predicted that.  So I must have done something different to change the result – what was it?

I’m still trying to figure that out myself, but here’s what I came up with so far:

  • I was focused on my court, my game – I wouldn’t allow the distractions of teammates playing on the next court, conversations on the sidelines, and my opponents’ actions to get into my head at all
    Lesson learned:  I don’t have to let all the outside factors affect me; I have the ability to turn inward and use my power and strength to move forward
  • I wasn’t scared of the challenge – I accepted the challenge of playing against the team, playing against an old nemesis (didn’t have much choice in the line-up, but I did have the choice about how I approached it once it was in place)
    Lesson learned:  Face up to it already – it is what it is (deep)
  • I stood up to the challenge by going out, playing my best, going for it, and keeping a good attitude even when I was nervous and made mistakes
    Lesson learned:  I can do this!

When I started this post by saying I faced an old foe, I should have said old foes.  I faced not only a person I played and lost to several times in the past, but I faced the foes of fear and giving up rather than facing the challenge.  Taking them head on felt oh so good!  We have to welcome the challenge – there is much to learn from it.  As they say, everything happens for a reason.  This challenge presented an opportunity to believe in myself, learn to face things rather than just giving up and walking away because it’s easier, less taxing, and potentially less disappointing.  It felt infinitely better to face the challenge and win rather than walking away and never knowing what could have happened.  I would have felt like I cheated myself out of an experience if I didn’t play the match and face my fear of losing and not playing well. 

Is there some challenge you’re avoiding because it’s a little scary?  Not sure what will happen in the end and it’s holding you back?  Maybe it’s easier just to avoid it and not face disappointment?  Ever heard that saying – what you resist persists?  Think about what you might be missing in resisting that challenge – maybe there is something wonderful on the other side!  Take a step toward the challenge instead of shying away from it.  One step at a time and you’ll already be on your way to standing up to that challenge head on.  STAND UP!


Nicole Hancock Husband is an attorney and Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (“CPCC”). Nicole graduated from Howard University School of Law in 1996 with a Juris Doctorate and from Ohio State University in 1993 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration, with a Finance/International Studies double major and Spanish minor.