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Are You Prepared to "Tuck & Roll"?

Sep 03, 2022

"Luck is when preparation meets opportunity" 

                                                                          - Seneca

It is the fall of 1980; my high school football team is preparing to take on one of our arch-rivals.  Both teams are 6-0 and whoever wins the game is in the driver's seat for the conference championship - and we've got them at our home stadium.  



It's minutes before kickoff and my teammates and I are high up above the playing field in an area of the stadium called the team room



It is a small, dark and cramped room where all 45 of my teammates and I are quietly making our final mental preparations for the big game. 



It is so quiet you can hear a pin drop as players are either silently sitting or pensively pacing back and forth to insure, they have the mental edge - you can cut the tension with a knife.


Suddenly, our head coach enters the room and gives the most amazing pre-game speech ever delivered.  The room explodes in enthusiasm. Players begin pounding each other's shoulder pads, head-butting helmets and screaming to the point that spittle is flying from their mouths.


It was now my job, as team captain, to lead this band of rabid teenagers onto the field and I am terrified - and it has nothing to do with football. 


As previously mentioned, the team room is located high above the stadium field and my teammates and I have to now negotiate some 40 steps to get onto the field. 


Have you ever walked on concrete in cleats?  It's like walking on ice skates and I am no hockey player.  


I tentatively make my way down the stairs, "white knuckling" the handrail and as I get near the bottom of the stairs, guess what happens? 



Actually, nothing.  I made it down the playing field without experiencing a disaster of any kind. 



However, I had one more obstacle in front of me.  The cheerleaders have constructed a run-through, an 8-foot high by 6-foot wide wooden structure with butcher paper wrapping around the frame.  Words of encouragement for our team are proudly painted on the front.   


I let out a guttural battle cry and sprint toward the paper sign, my legion following closely behind.  I powerfully blast through the sign to the roars of the home crowd and the band playing our high school fight song. 

 Nothing could stop me at this moment.  I am invincible - except.....


Except I didn't notice the drainage ditch right at the edge of the field.  In an instant, my right foot catches and I trip awkwardly.  Unable to regain my balance, I find myself in falling in mid-air with my 45 over-enthusiastic teammates running at a full sprint behind me. 


You know how they say you have those moments when your entire life flashes before you..........?


But suddenly, I have a thought.  From my very first martial arts class, my instructor had taught me how to fall.  He taught me how to fall backward, to the side, to the front and he taught me how to tuck and roll



Instantly, I hear "tuck and roll" - I dip my shoulder, roll gracefully onto my back, then onto my feet and resume a full sprint to our end zone within seconds - disaster averted! 


However, as I looked back to greet my teammates, what did I see?  All 45 of them were doing somersaults as they entered the field!!!!!!


When I think of that memory now, almost four decades later, I can only think that I averted the potential disaster because I was prepared. 


In those early years of martial arts training, I had no idea when the ability to take a fall would serve me - if ever.  I have to admit, there were times when I was falling and rolling on the martial arts mat, I was wondering why I had to practice these ridiculous drills - but in the end, they served me greatly.


This week, I challenge all of us to take a look at our own lives to identify the areas where we can do a better job in preparing ourselves for when challenges and/or opportunities arise. 


It is easy to get into a rhythm and malaise that each day and week can bring. 


However, true leaders in life and business take time often to evaluate where they are and where they want to go - properly preparing themselves and their organizations so they can positively respond when opportunities present themselves.


Where do you need to prepare to "tuck and roll"?


Chris Natzke

Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching

PS:  Are you prepared to use speaking as a means to build your business? If not, check out our upcoming webinar, the 3 Secrets Speakers Use to Monetize Any Stage.  


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