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Thrive in Careers and Life: ‘Live Knowing’ or ‘Die Wondering’?

Thrive in Careers and Life: ‘Live Knowing’ or ‘Die Wondering’?

This is classic summer. Sun out, Wimbledon on. I’ve been playing my own version of Wimbledon lately. Tennis tournaments across Dublin that is. The standard I play at is a mere fraction on show currently at SW19. That being said, the tournaments have made me appreciate the ‘win or lose’, ‘live or die’ environment that tennis professionals operate in.

In a mixed doubles game three weeks ago, my playing partner and I played cautiously against more daring opponents. We lost. Last week, in a different tournament, it felt like deja vu. We started to retreat into our shell mid-match. This time though, we realised that we had to play our own game and be courageous or we were out. We won.

I’ve learned from these last few weeks that in knockout sports, you’ve two options. You can ‘live knowing’ or ‘die wondering’. Sport is not life or death. There are much greater challenges in life which people face for which the words ‘life or death’ present a much greater significance. Whilst acknowledging these facts, I do believe the conceptual approach of ‘live knowing’ has great relevance in how we live life.

Opportunities in life present themselves on occasion. I know I’m not on my own when I say there’s been opportunities which I have let pass me by that have left me wondering. Adopting a ‘live knowing’ approach has so much upside potential for us to live life well.

Here’s two things I’ve learned about the ‘live knowing’ approach in the last three weeks:

You must know what you want:

In the tennis game three weeks ago, my partner and I had no agreed strategy for how we wanted to play. Therefore, all we could do is respond to the strategy of our own opponents. But their strategy was designed to suit them, not us. If we have no strategy for our career we will likely move, or be moved, in the direction that works for others i.e. your boss, recruiters etc. That is not a ‘live knowing’ approach. To ‘live knowing’ we must create our own strategy for our career. From this, we can take the action needed to can make our strategy come to life.

‘Live knowing’ is difficult:

The match three weeks ago was a lot easier to play. We had to think very little. We just had to play our shots. Our opponents dictated the pattern of play. But we lost. Last week was completely different. It required much more energy and focus to keep playing our own game. But it was much more exhilarating, pride-injecting and rewarding. It’s very easy to continue along a steady path in work and life and let others make calls around us and for us. It’s harder to plot and navigate your own course. But it’s far more exhilarating and rewarding when you do.

Can a ‘live knowing’ approach be kept up every day? I don’t know.

Is it worth trying?