Rick Barry Can Help Your Relationships (And Your Free Throws)

ricky barry

Rick Barry is a jerk.  Seriously.  According to a lot of people.  Most people.  Even family members.  If you don’t know Barry, he is a Hall of Fame basketball player.  Won league MVP honors.  Is considered one of the three or four best shooters EVER.  But, he is just as well-known for two things besides basketball ability.  One, he shot free throws underhanded (granny shot).  And two, he is a jerk.

You see Barry is a perfectionist.  That’s why he shot free throws underhanded.  (listen to Gladwell’s podcast to learn more about Barry and free throws, it’s really good)  Apparently, it is the most effective means of making them.  And Barry made them.  But Barry also expected others to have the same level of perfection when it came to basketball.  He would gripe at teammates for not doing everything to maximize their basketball prowess and therefore the team’s chance to win.  He complains about high-fiving players who missed a shot.  He can never understand why everyone wouldn’t shoot free throws like him when it is obviously the best way to do it.

Does any of this sound familiar?

The kid who practices piano for twenty hours a week can’t understand why anyone would practice an instrument less.  “Don’t you want to get good at it?”  But he probably also doesn’t get the kid that would practice 40 hours a week.  That is insane.

If I work 50 hours a week, I look at somebody who works seventy and say “good grief, get a life, be with your family.”  If someone works 35 I view them as lazy or perhaps entitled.  MY zone is THE zone.  Everyone’s home should be as clean as mine.  Maintain their cars at the same level I do.

But Barry confronts us with something because he is so far down the road.  We all have different “zones”.  Differing levels of expectation and perfectionism.  I know almost no one at Barry’s level.  But if I look honestly at my life and others, I see many different zones, most of which do not match mine.

This is critical as we deal with others in relationship.  I would guess that much of our frustration with others comes from real differences in our zones.  We butt heads because their zone just feels wrong to us.  But it feels wrong for a very good reason.  Because it is wrong for us.  We are not them.  They are not us.  For relationships to work I must be willing to drop the expectation that others will view life, work, relationships and love just like I do.

Who is right, the wife who is mad at her husband for not doing more to clean up dinner, or the husband who goes outside and plays with the kids?   Should we really expect everyone to have the same desire we do when it comes to work and family and friends?

Barry was right.  Let’s don’t forget that.  He had found some seriously better ways to play basketball.  But he found them because of his zone.  But what trapped him was that he could not manage to berate his teammates to move to his level.  Huh.  Something there will preach.

It’s funny.  When I go to the public library I typically wander over to the new book section.  Fiction is on the left, and I peruse it, scanning for anything interesting.  Then my eyes shift to the right.  Non-fiction.  I typically flip through a couple of biographies.  Skim the back cover of some political or sports book.  But my gaze inevitably falls on a particular set of books.  They are about business or entrepreneurship, leadership or maximizing potential.  They urge me to now “Smash It” and “Lead” and “Build my Brand.”  I stare at them for a moment.  And the same thought always goes through my head: “Nah, I don’t want to smash it”.  That’s right, I don’t really care if I maximize my potential.  At least not in the way those books mean it.

Rick Barry believed in shooting free throws underhanded because it was the best way to do it.  He was a perfectionist.  Other’s wouldn’t do it because they thought it made them look like a “sissy.”  What’s amusing is that if I made the NBA, I would shoot underhanded like Barry.  But not because I am a perfectionist.  I would shoot the granny shot because I would want to get along with Rick Barry.  Be his friend.  Relationships, that’s my zone.

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and others is permission to be different.  To have various levels of desire and expectation.  We must recognize that someone who does life differently than we do isn’t crazy or lazy.  Nah.  They are just different.

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The Money Trap

We get by.  Barely.  Well sometimes less than barely.  Between seven kids, choosing to work less so we can homeschool them, and working the type of jobs we do, we struggle.

Now, please don’t hear that as a complaint.  We have all we need.  And much of what we want.  I just mean that our budget is an accountant’s dream.  You end up back at zero pretty much all the time.

We all know that money is one of the things that couples often fight about.  It is the place where power, respect, selfishness, and our fears all meet.  That can be a dangerous mix.  But just because you have very little (or even a lot of) money doesn’t mean you have to let it be the place that sabotages your relationships.  Here are a few simple steps that might help.

  1. Try a cash system.  One of the frustrating money matters for many couples is the opening of the credit card bill.  That is when we discover that we WAY overshot the budget.  And now, because of interest and fees, we have even less for next month.  Instead, at the beginning of the month get your paycheck cashed, and put the money in envelopes labeled with how that money is supposed to be spent.  When the envelope runs out, that’s it.  Of course you have to resist the urge to grab the credit card.
  2. Focus on relationships. Worrying about money produces nothing good.  What if instead you focused your mental and emotional energies on the relationships that matter in your life?  This doesn’t mean avoiding unpleasant topics.  Rather, when you feel yourself beginning to worry, take the kids for a bike ride or go to the park and swing together.  Play with your infant on the living room floor.  Grab your spouse for an impromptu dance session.  You will rediscover that the things you care about the most are actually free.
  3. Set limits on money talk. Budgets and bills and credit cards and payments and salaries can dominate our conversations.  Try setting a limit.  Only talk about finances at set aside moments and for a finite amount of time.  Have a budget meeting, rather than sprinkling monetary concerns into every other conversation.  Financial worries and fiscal concerns will eat up however much time you give them.  So, only give them a little.
  4. Be thankful. This doesn’t mean simply seeing how much you actually have or comparing ourselves to those who have less.  Rather, look at all the ways our relationships bring us joy, help us mature, challenge our faith, and bring us peace.  When I am truly thankful I may begin by focusing on monetary blessings, but very quickly that is overwhelmed by the people who love me and care for me.  A deep session of thankfulness typically leaves us less concerned about stuff and more focused on people.

These are good ideas.  They will help.  But ultimately we have to make a decision about money in our relationships.  Money can be a difficult issue that we work on together.  Or, we can view our partner as the problem.  It is all about how they spend the money, their selfishness, their unwillingness to pitch in.  Just remember, once we view our partner as the opposing team, then we have to win.  And if we win in a war about money against our partner, our relationship loses.

Family Camp Fears

archerytag

Last week I went to Family Camp. That may sound completely awesome or absolutely horrible to you. And I would understand either perception. The word “camp” may bring back wonderful memories of your youth spent in little cabins in the woods, or remind you of debilitating heat and humidity and mosquitos the size of attack helicopters. But Family Camp turned out to be a wonderful week for our entire family.

We went to Glorieta, New Mexico and enjoyed time in the scenic mountains, a rafting trip down the Rio Grande, archery tag (you read that right), mountain biking, zip lines, and so much more. We met other amazing families, had some pretty incredible food, and were ministered to by such a great staff. My hat is off to Josh Baker and all his minions!

But it wasn’t all fun and games. There was some soul-searching that I desperately needed. And what I discovered was something both simple and extremely difficult. I learned that my children and I suffer from the same disease: Fear. Not fear of something lurking in the trees, or even fear of crashing on a mountain bike trail. No, a deeper and darker set of fears. Fears so prevalent and anxiety producing that they can weigh us down and keep us from becoming who we were truly meant to be.

You see, one day, as we talked about burdens at camp, many of my children expressed their fears of rejection, insignificance and loneliness.

I get it. Boy do I get it.

Confession time. I come across as pretty confident and self-assured. Yet, deep down I often feel unwanted, incapable, under-appreciated. Sometimes I don’t try as hard as I can because that way when things don’t work out, I can always think it was lack of effort on my part, not lack of acceptance or appreciation from others. Yes, the fears of loneliness and rejection that my children mentioned are writ large in me.

So what can we do? Obviously we should work on our fears. Push through. Talk about them with God. But there is something else I learned that is even deeper than my fears. Family can be the place where rejection, need for attainment, insignificance, and loneliness are crushed under an avalanche of acceptance, love and togetherness. When I think about my fears, they so often have to do with whether someone will think I did a good job, or whether somebody thinks highly enough of my work to hire me. But I do not fear my five-year old daughter will reject me. She and I have a bond of acceptance that runs deeper than any anxiety. Why am I so concerned with what strangers think of me when the most precious gifts God has given me offer nothing but affirmation and love?

I know not every family has that. Family can be the place where some of us feel the most rejected. But even if that is the case, maybe we can be the starting point for changing that. Perhaps I can love and accept and hug and kiss and affirm and honor my family in such a way that their fears disappear when I am around.

The claim of Jesus is that “perfect love drives out fear”. I think the opposite is often true as well, “fear pushes away love and acceptance”. We truly do live in a battle ground between fear and love. May our homes and families become places of refuge, where fears are relieved, and love always wins.

The D Word

secretos

It may be the worst word in the English language.  Worse than any curse word.  Why?  Because it shreds our emotions and makes us horrible to be around.  The word?  Deserve.

Many of us feel guilty, unworthy.  When bad things happen, we feel like we are getting what we deserve.  Which only makes us feel terrible about ourselves and absolutely no fun to be around.

On the other hand, some of us think we deserve better.  When things go wrong, or the world doesn’t work the way we think it should; we feel let down, abused and mistreated.  Which of course makes us gripey, whiney, and self-righteous.  Even worse to be around than those guilty schmucks.

You see, when we use the word deserve, it typically leads to misery.  Both ours and others.

This is especially true in relationships.  Lots of us feel, deep down inside, that when things don’t work in our relationships that is just us getting what we deserve.  We are not worth being treated well.  So, we give off a vibe that says “spit on me, I won’t mind”.

Others of us feel that we deserve to be made happy by our relationships.  So when someone lets us down, whether they meant to or not, we mount our high horse and scream about how unfair life is and how we deserve better.  (By the way, neither of these positions makes anyone actually want to love you.)

On the other hand, people who find fulfillment in their relationships don’t think about what they deserve.  Instead, they focus on what they can give.  They look at what they can do to improve themselves.  How can I be a better listener?  What can I do to be more welcoming?  Where can I best use my talents to help others?  Those finding fulfillment in relationships drop the “de” from deserve.

It sounds simple, and it truly is.  It is just difficult to do.  Stop looking at what you should get, and focus on what you can give.  Don’t focus on what you deserve; focus on how you can serve.

If you want to be unhappy, if you desire to be miserable, just spend the next hour or so thinking about what you deserve.  You will either feel totally guilty or completely uncared for.  Now doesn’t that feel good?!

But if you want to be happy, if you desire some joy in your life, then drop deserve from your vocabulary.