by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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Yes, a bit of irony, I am aware. But I do firmly believe that this is the case in life, nothing is predetermined and you have endless possibilities. Step back once in a while and look at life through this lens and remember that if you are in a situation now that you don’t like, you can change it.
A bad or toxic marriage, crappy day job, don’t like where you live? All of this is easily change, once you decide to make that change and take action. For many, it seems they must hit rock bottom or some sort of absolute breaking point before they will take action to make changes. This is unfortunate, as life is too short to miserable for long.
I am not sure who to credit for this quote, but I love it nonetheless:
“Never be afraid to sacrifice who you are for what you might become”
I am a fan of this because I have lived it. I have had the good fortune of having people in my life since I was young that preach this same ideal, and I have luckily found the fortitude to follow this advice. I have lots of examples I could share, but probably the most glaringly obvious one is during my Pro Tour career. I was wallowing in mediocrity, albeit at the highest level, and was offered an overhaul of my game by one of the top players in the game. I knew I would take a step or two backwards first, and that struggle would be the only constant in this process. But if I did it, and could make the changes that were needed, I would greatly improve my game and therefore my results. So I took the plunge; I spent a couple of one week sessions in Memphis breaking down everything my game entailed. Just to prove how much this was needed, I was matched up against a player much older than I, and no where near what I perceived my level of play upon arrival. I barely won, and mainly because physically I outlasted him, not outplayed him. His approach to the game was far more strategic and had margin for error built in; two things that absolutely leveled the game, and nearly eclipsed my physical abilities.
The good news was that I saw the light…I knew that if I could implement the game strategies that had been used against me, with the benefit of my physical fitness, then I would have a game style that could compete at the highest level. So that day began the transformation from me as an “also-ran” pro wannabe ranked in the 70’s to a completely revamped and rebuilt Top 20 competitor.
It was a lot of work, and lot of frustrating times as I was stuck halfway between past and future me. The present version was often confused and not yet doing things automatically as I had done for so long. But I knew I could not continue to climb the ladder if I stayed with the same skills that got me to that point. I had plateaued, and I needed help. I got it thanks to the unselfish disposition of a fellow competitor. Andy Roberts made me a real pro, and I am forever grateful for that journey with him.
As I always try to do, I am leading by example, showing you that this can be done. I try not to write about things that I am unfamiliar with, but rather share life lessons of my own. The decision to give up on that former version of me that I had worked so hard on for so long, and trust another to get me farther down the path was a leap of faith. He led the way and I did the work. I put in the hard miles to make the new habits and reactive tactics into automated responses. It took a lot of work to change my footwork, and I took some rough losses in the process. I literally taught myself to lead with the other foot when moving to the ball. The previous approach was an ingrained habit modeled after every other player I had ever watched, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a better way. I practiced it night and day, on the court, off the court. I wrote notes on my bathroom mirror that read: “Left foot first” as a reminder. I stumbled, struggled and lost practice matches. But I never caved to the temptation to abandon ship and swim to shore, back to my old ways I was familiar and comfortable with. I committed to the changes, and I never looked back. All you need to do is the same…
Regardless of the struggles you face or the magnitude of the change(s) you want to make, you have to do three things:
  1. Determine the problem of your current situation
  2. Visualize a better way to live/work/play (whatever is applicable)
  3. Commit to doing the work
Sounds easy enough, right? Well allow me to dispel this thought right away. It’s NOT easy; if it was, everyone would make changes and improvements in their lives all the time. And you are smart enough to know that this is not how the world works. Most people would rather live in miserable but familiar situations instead of chancing the unknown. Crazy to think that the misery has more of a comfort level to it than the unknown. I don’t want to live that way, and I believe that neither do you. The only question is…will you make the leap?
The reason I am the man I am today is because I believed that sacrificing who I was for what I thought I could become was a risk worth taking. I didn’t go to school to learn about public speaking, I figured it out. I watched, listened and learned from as many others as I could. I don’t think I will become the next Tony Robbins, but I can tell you that I am already better than some who do this for a living, in my own opinion. That is promising to me, and as I progress on my own, maybe I will find a new mentor that will pull back the curtain and reveal to me a new way. This will mean I will sacrifice who I am at that time for who I might become. Because the previous times I did this were so beneficial, I will not hesitate to take that leap again.
Nothing is written in stone. At any time in your life, you can choose to make a change and start doing things differently to obtain different results. Your future is not laid out to be only one thing with no hope or possibility of change. EVERYONE can reinvent themselves, and it is being done all the time, so their are plenty of examples. Athletes, entertainers, and others in the public eye do it to keep their careers going. But there are many examples of this to be found: like the perpetual frat boy who meets the right partner and suddenly changes his ways. Or the highly successful business woman who puts her career on pause to have children. Life is full of examples for you to follow, and to take solace that this has all been done before. You are not playing pioneer, you are following the lead of others. Much easier….
Have faith, have belief in yourself, and/or allow your circumstances to drive the action you need to take. JUST DO IT. Make the choice, map out a plan and GO! Nothing is written in stone unless you allow it to be.
I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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