When I was in 8th grade I pitched for my fast-pitch softball team. I had excellent aim and absolutely no speed. I was so concerned with throwing the perfect strike that I was scared to throw hard. My strategy worked with teams who couldn’t hit. But those who could, oh my gosh, I was dead in the water. Very. Long. Innings.
The varsity coach, who was also my 8th grade social studies teacher, came to watch a game and offered to coach me over the summer. He put together a 10,000 Pitch Club. Yep, I was to throw 10,000 pitches the summer before I started high school. I was scared. And excited. And scared.
We met at a field by my house and he had a bucket of softballs but he was not behind the plate. Nobody was. It was me and the backstop. He was not going to get behind the plate until I could hit the strike zone. Smart move on his part. I was to only throw as hard as I could. No more aiming. And I hit nowhere near the strike zone. Not even close. He encouraged me to throw again as hard as I could. I could not hit the broad side of a barn. I went home super discouraged and embarrassed. He wasn’t discouraged at all.
But I kept at it.
Fast forward that summer and I did throw 10,000 pitches. Eventually the rhythm clicked. I was throwing hard and hitting the strike zone very consistently. Eventually my dad would sit on a camping stool behind the plate and not move. I was so proud. I was no longer scared to throw! I was a pitcher.
During a client call this week I shared this story. The client was having a challenging time telling the hard truth in a relationship. I can so relate. I too have often found myself wanting to say exactly the right thing so I am understood and don’t hurt anyone during a conflict. But what usually happens is I don’t tell the hard truth because I’m afraid of missing. Oh I don’t want to miss! And this client didn’t want that either. However, when we don’t tell the hard truth, we are actually missing…missing the opportunity to have an honest relationship with ourselves and others.
I’m not advocating for speaking disrespectfully or in a manner that deliberately hurts another person. I am learning and teaching that your truth may not match someone else’s and it’s okay. It may be uncomfortable. But conflict of any type is uncomfortable. So if it’s going to feel a bit off anyway, take the risk to be more at ease with your relationship with yourself. Tell the hard truth. It will click. You will hit the strike zone. But it will be your zone.
- It’s okay to spend some time alone and throw hard to get all of your thoughts out.
- Telling the truth to yourself first will help you speak with more confidence during a conflict. (You still may feel uncomfortable. Okay. You can handle it.)
- It’s okay to miss. It helps you refine your technique.
- Keep at it.
- Enlist the help of someone who will believe in you when you don’t.
- You don’t need the other person to agree with your truth.
- When you tell the truth faster you actually are more effective. The conflict stays contained rather than gaining momentum.
Where do you need to tell the hard truth? Begin with telling the truth to yourself. I can help if you need it.