About that Offense

About that Offense

“The best defense is a good offense.” ~an old adage

But what aboutBut did you… the questions were flying at him. It was like a basketball game. The other team (or in this case, his boss) might not have had more good plays, but they were able to stop the drive to the basket. Echoing in his head were the words heard in every war game, sports game, and now in ordinary life — the best defense is a good offense. “They” don’t have to worry about only having a good defense if “we” have no offense. Having a plan is how we will win against the opponents in life, not by just throwing up our hands in hopes of blocking their shots.

I’ve loved the game of basketball since I was old enough to know what it was. Understanding how to win is better than figuring out how not to lose — like figuring out how to shoot the ball so that when it hits the backboard it doesn’t roll down the hill and into the woods, instead of figuring out the best way to retrieve the ball while avoiding the poison ivy. When I watch basketball games today, I find that near the end of a game in which a team has miraculously taken the lead, their approach seems to change, and it leaves me feeling frustrated — they stop trying to win and appear to be just trying not to lose. There is a difference, and it happens in the game of life all the time. What if we changed our thinking to do more winning and less trying not to lose?

In my experience, winning and losing starts with our ego. In a recent conversation, a friend suggested that people’s egos were a problem. One of my key rules in any group is “Check your ego at the door.”  I expect it of others and use it for myself, and it is with good reason. There is a correlation between ego and defensiveness, and when we come to any relationship with our ego leading the way, it’s very difficult to be open to what could be better ideas and a better way.

When you walk into a room, make a conscious decision to ‘check’ your ego as you would a coat or hat if there were a place to put them while you are there. Pick it up when you leave, in case you need it later in the day.

In a 1998 study, it was determined that some people bully to defend against their own feelings of weakness and vulnerability. If we know that is what is going to happen, I have to believe most of us would want to make a new plan, and that is where a good offense comes into play. When we don’t make a conscious choice to pay attention to the ego, we begin to view simple disagreements as attacks, and we react by bullying those we view as opponents. Think about where this happens in your life.

  • Your boss (or co-worker) suggests or demands that you do your job differently. When you forget to check your ego at the door, it comes with you and is offended, feels attacked, and often reacts badly. When you remember to disengage from your ego, you realize that other people might have good ideas. Your ideas are not bad or under attack.
  • Your kids (or spouse or partner) announce that they don’t like the way you make their lunch, demand chores are done a certain way, or try to control their free time. The ego in most of us would quickly remind the children that they are just children, but when we check our ego at the door, we don’t have to be defensive. We can instead listen to their suggestions for ways we could work differently and achieve the same or better results.
  • Your friend on social media (or in real life) attacks you for your point of view and is upset that you have overlooked what, to them, is obviously the truth. If your ego has been checked, it will be much easier to hear what your friend is seeing that you are not, have a meaningful conversation and perhaps even change your thinking.

Do you see any situations in your own life that look similar to those I’ve shared? When our ego is in control of every situation, things are out of control, and we are living on the defense. Having a strong offense means having a plan, not reacting haphazardly.

Maybe you are always playing defense with your finances, instead of having a good playbook to follow. Maybe you are always on the defense with your home repairs and car repairs. Can you see where it might make life more pleasant to develop a good offense?

There are many things that will bring a happier life, or better experience in a marriage, friendship, or work relationship. It begins with some thought about what we want out of it. When we realize that being in a relationship with even one other person means remembering that we aren’t the only one in the room, we can begin to achieve success and go from a 1-22 record to 11-11, and maybe one day we’ll be winning almost all the time. Unlike in sports, though, no one has to lose in order for us to win, and that is the greatest success we will experience — when we realize that winning for us means helping others to win, too.

We can’t control if the other people in our lives will have read this and know that they should play by the same rules, though. All you and I can do is get to work on our offense and check that ego at the door.


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Thoughts to Encourage

Joy is the will which labors, which overcomes obstacles, which knows triumph.~ William Butler Yeats

Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right. - Henry Ford

The best way out is always through. ~ Robert Frost

Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable. ~ Theodore N. Vail

Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall. ~ Oliver Goldsmith

You must be the change you want to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi

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