Believing in yourself and having the courage to start.

Dare To Compete
The differentiating trait of successful people

One of the ironies of living in Dubai is that we drive in our cars to get to a park to ride our bikes. Needing something to psyche me up after a tough six weeks layoff from the cycle, I tuned into Jay Shetty’s “On Purpose” podcast while driving to the cycling track for day two of a 30 by 30 challenge. As always, Jay was delivering an inspirational masterclass with his guest – Maya Shankar (my daughter’s namesake).
One comment from Maya resonated so strong, I had to replay it several times afterwards. She made me realise that other people do face anxious moments and feelings of insecurities. But self-awareness and the ability to deal with those anxieties and insecurities are what set successful people apart.
“Maybe I’m too afraid to do the thing I’ve been asking everybody else to do. Maybe I don’t think I’m good enough. Maybe, I don’t know if I have what it takes.” – Hilary Clinton
That was Hilary’s reaction to a comment from a basketball player while she was courtside during a game. “Dare to compete, Mrs Clinton, dare to compete.” This point made me reflect on my recent experience getting back to the game of squash, which I had not played since I left Dar es Salaam in 2017.
When I briefly stopped cycling in September this year because I did not have a car, I found a squash court within 3KM of my house. So I signed up to have something to maintain my stamina. But my first call with the club manager on that Saturday was not what I expected. His immediate response to my enquiry was, “Oh you are in luck! We have one spot left in our beginners’ tournament this coming Friday.” What? I can’t play, I replied. I need a coach to start practising, and I do not intend to compete. I am doing this to keep fit. I could almost bet this guy was deaf because he then said, “you can come over to sign up with our coach when he returns from his vacation on Tuesday.” I will see the coach, but I will not be playing in the tournament. “See you on Tuesday.” Click.
On Tuesday, I got to the sports club in my running shoes, shorts, and a T-shirt to inquire about membership details. “Yes, I was expecting you,” the coach said after we exchanged pleasantries. What do you mean you kept my spot for the tournament? I told your colleague I would not be playing. “Some of the guys who will be playing at the tournament are on the court now. You can play a few games with them. Then we will have a training session on Wednesday to get you ready.” I turned to see whom he was talking to; “yes, you,” he said. Coach, I don’t have a racket, and these are not squash shoes. “No problem.” A few minutes later, the coach handed me a racket and directed me to a waiting opponent on the court.
In no time, I was panting like I had just finished a 100 meters sprint. I prefer not to let the scores distract you from the point of the story. So let’s move on. All I said some 20 minutes later was, water! Water! Water! Coach, I think I am going to faint. I can’t do this – no tournament for me. I could have been talking to you at this point. “Don’t worry; you will be fine. Just focus on participating. The first round is only five matches on best of three games each.”

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