Whether baseball is your thing or not, it’s worth watching a few plays of a game next week as the U.S. MLB opens its season. If you watch, pay attention to the stance of a player, just before a play occurs. This posture reveals two qualities we all need to increase our success no matter the endeavor.
About the same time as the pitcher winds up to throw a pitch, the rest of the players assume a position I call relaxed vigilance. It’s easy to spot when you’re watching for it. Moments before the ball leaves the hand of the pitcher, players assume an open and flexible stance. This flexible stance readies them to move multiple directions based on where the ball is hit. In other words, their stance readies them for a number of possible scenarios. Simultaneously, players add vigilance to their stance. They are completely focused on the present moment. This focus directs attention at a very specific point in time and space. This allows them to see what is happening and quickly respond to it.
The key to this stance is the combination of relaxation and vigilance. That’s the ticket.
If a player’s posture is vigilant but not relaxed, it leads to rigidity. This rigidity then diminishes his ability to quickly adapt his body to the emerging moment. A rigid stance doesn’t allow for needed flexibility. However, if a player’s stance is relaxed but not vigilant, it leads to unresponsiveness. This unresponsiveness then diminishes his participation in the moment. The play is over before he has any chance of entering it.
Many moments of our day require this same kind of relaxed vigilance. Without the simultaneous expression of these two qualities, we are rendered ineffective (or less effective) in the moment. It seems that most of us are better at one of the two qualities. Some of us are superb at vigilance and others are excellent at relaxing in and through a moment. But, it’s the combination that increases success.
Which of the two qualities are you better at expressing?
What specific actions would you need to take to simultaneously express both qualities?