Ball Awareness

Now that you are familiar with the On The Ball Theory Basics, the next few postings will get into some details. The first of these topics is Ball Awareness, and it is what separates 1’s and 2’s from 3’s and 4’s. As part of the theory, there are a few Ball Awareness rules to keep in mind:

You are not born with Ball Awareness, it is learned

For starters, if we were all born with ball awareness, 3’s and 4’s would not exist. Therefore, each of us that are 1’s and 2’s must have acquired this knowledge somewhere along the way. However, there is no real “ah ha” moment; you don’t realize that there is a ball overnight. Ball Awareness takes time, perhaps years, until we have fully come to grips with what it means to know there’s a ball to be on.

There’s a reason why the 3’s were split into two groups. The Junior Achievers are kids who exhibit on the ball tendencies, but have not yet learned about the ball. The awareness, more than likely, starts somewhere in third or fourth grade. Instead of smiley faces, stickers, and stars, their schoolwork is returned to them with actual grades. They start to keep score in the sports that they play. They begin to realize that there is a cause-and-effect to their effort and skill, and the result of that activity or task. Indirectly, they are starting to realize there is a ball out there, and the journey continues for quite a while.

Once you are aware of the ball, you can’t go back

Ball Awareness, for good or for bad, is a one way street. You may not like it, but once you officially realize there is a ball out there, you cannot deny its existence. You might be trying to get on the ball, decide being on the ball is too hard, or try to ignore it altogether, but once you have ball awareness, it sets an expectation with others as to your actions and reactions in life.

Ball Awareness and Ball Attributes are two different things

Finally, your official awareness of the ball is not enough. Ball Attributes will be discussed in a future posting, but as an example, it is easy to see that the ball the third or fourth grader mentioned above is aware of is quite different than the ball you are aware of as a spouse, parent, and/or professional in the workplace. Not only do you need to be aware of the ball, but you need to recognize that the attributes of the ball change over time. This particular rule is important to keep in mind as you progress from a 2 to a 1.

So, for the vast majority of us (other than the Conceivers, the other group of 3’s), the path to being on the ball goes through Ball Awareness. Most of you (this audience, not necessarily the population at large) have Ball Awareness, but as you’ll see shortly, it is one of many steps!