Be Strong and Courageous!

Will Mancini | March 16, 2020

Over the next 2 weeks, I am exploring principles of mental and spiritual strength. I will share characteristics that strong people exhibit and ways in which you can cultivate them in your own life.

Characteristic #4 – Strong People Embrace Change

Play the ball where the monkey drops it.  This was the adopted mantra of British golfers who lived in India during colonial times. Monkeys would emerge from their natural habitat and join the game.  They would chase the balls, take the balls, move the balls, play with the balls. Monkeys disrupted the game.  

The British tried erecting fences and posting guards to keep the monkeys back, but eventually decided to play the ball where the monkey dropped it — as we often must do in life, to live the best we can when forces beyond our control steal our ball. 

I love this story because it playfully highlights how important it is to embrace change.  Mentally and spiritually strong people stay in the game and find a way to have some fun in the face of disruption. 

There are 4 stages of embracing change that I recognize and use in my work and family.  

#1 – “Game On.”  This is when someone, something, some event heists what is valuable to us.  We were all going about our lives and preparing to graduate, compete, finish a big project at work.  Now we are home and trying to adjust. The biggest mistake we could make is to think that the game is over.  Instead, we need to find a way to keep moving forward.  Admittedly this is easier said than done.  In future blogs, I’ll extrapolate on tools and strategies for overcoming the heist.  For now, the important thing is to recognize there is a game in play. Remember when the women disciples went to the tomb to care for Jesus body after he was crucified, angels appear and say, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! (Luke 24:5).” The great rescue mission of God was not over, it was just beginning.  While it may have appeared that someone stole Jesus’ body, he was alive and a new phase of the story was beginning.  Spiritually strong people are always looking for where Jesus is at work and joining him there. 

#2 –  “Game Changer.”  Be on the lookout for the bright spots. Recognize that although the game has changed and there are real losses to grieve, there are good things that can be realized.  Sometimes the monkey dropped the ball closer to the hole, giving the hapless golfer an unpredicted advantage.  It is not always bad.  One of my favorite books, Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, encourages a principal called ‘Widen The Frame.’  Before making a decision, expand the questions you are asking and challenge yourself to go beyond the expected to see new possibilities.  Our tendency is to limit the information coming at us, narrow down the choices, and make a decision.  But at this stage, resist the urge to make the world smaller.  Widen the frame and be open to what you might find. 

#3 – “New Game.”  My family is a golfing family.  When we have a really bad hole we have a phrase that keeps us motivated to keep going, “New hole best hole.”  We don’t give up, start over, or concede the win to another player.  We look forward to what is possible on the next hole.  Leverage your experience and all you have learned and honed in the past for such a time is this.  Find the energy to keep moving by connecting the dots of what you still have, what fuel you have to invest, and what can be leveraged.  Our fuel on the course is blue Gatorade and Goldfish crackers.  What is yours? 

#4 – “Head Game.”  Arnold Palmer famously said, “Golf is a game of inches. The most important are the six inches between your ears.”  Mentally and spiritually strong people know that staying in the game means ignoring unfounded thoughts.  Proverbially, strong people keep their eye on the ball and don’t allow negative thoughts and anxieties direct the steps.  Instead, we set concrete goals and ask others to help us stay true to our plan.  We know there will be obstacles, but we don’t let them get us off course.  We play the ball where the monkey drops it. 

You can be a game changer by embracing change for good.  At Younique, we embrace change by setting clear 90 Day goals that help us to stay in the game and focus us on where we can win.  Our singular 90-Day goal keeps us focused so we have the energy to push through obstacles and stay the course.  Intentional goal setting is one way that mentally and spiritually strong people successfully embrace change. 

Our online course, Life Planning 101, will help you set that all important 90 Day Goal. Be proactive and productive in the midst of uncertainty. 

I would love to hear how you embrace change.  What is a goal that you set that is keeping you focused?  How do you play the ball where the monkey drops it? Share with me your story. [email protected].  Be strong and courageous! 

Will Mancini

Co-Founder. Will is a pastor who became a full-time vision coach to ministry leaders early in his vocational journey. He loves to design process and tools to produce stunning clarity and break-thru the new normal. He is the founder of Auxano, a nationally based, non-profit church consulting group and the author of Church Unique and God Dreams.