Thinking Fast on the Field of Life

http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2013/0116/grant_ghost-tosser_sy_576.jpgI'm sure you know someone whose desk is a mess but "I know exactly where everything is."  I believe it: it may seem like chaos to the outsider but it is actually order to someone. 

I am the opposite: my desk is usually pristine.  But once I get so busy that multiple piles start forming, I lose the ability to function and I can't find anything. 

It has been obvious to me for awhile that the most successful people aren't necessarily the ones with the cleanest desks.  What has taken longer for me to realize (yes, I am that dense) is that while a clean desk can be very helpful for my productivity, an inability to adapt to just a little bit of chaos is very detrimental to my productivity.

I was reminded of this lesson when I read this article in the New Yorker about what makes a football player smart.  Football can seem such a brutal and physical sport that we forget just how intellectual it really is.  And I'm not talking about advanced stat; that's the purview of analysts and fans.  No, the players themselves have a lot to digest in a short week of preparation, and even less time on the playing field. What other sport has only 16 games per season, necessitating severe amounts of film study to familiarize yourself with an opponent you may only play directly once every two or three years?  And what other sport has 22 players on the field at the same time, which is a lot of bodies and angles and velocities to keep track of on each down?  At an elite level, then, the best players aren't necessarily the most physically freakish ones but the ones who can study harder during the week AND think faster during each play. 

That "and" is the key to football success and the lesson for my life.  I know the importance of putting in the time to plan ahead and be prepared.  I am learning the importance of thinking faster on the field, processing new information and adjusting my responses accordingly. 

Of course, this lesson can be applied to more than just my work life and the status of my desk.  There is only so much we can prepare for in our lives.  Sometimes chaos, uncertainty, and mess crash into our lives.  Just as I am thrown for a loop when my once-pristine desk gets cluttered even a little bit, I become irritated and frozen when life lurches in a new direction. 

I am learning to deal with a little clutter when at my desk.  But God still has a lot of work to do in me to make me supple to the curve balls He throws me.  They are intended to move me to a place where I respond with faith, trust, and openness, rather than frustration, panic, and distress.  And I wonder why I get so many of them.

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