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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 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 is a ball to be on.

Student 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 grade school. Instead of smiley faces, stickers, and stars, their schoolwork is returned to them with actual grades. They start to keep score in the sports 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.

The notion of calling them Student Achievers does not imply that school teachers are solely responsible for the journey of Ball Awareness. Parents are first and foremost, along with many other role models in a young person's life - coaches, club organizers, extended family, community leaders - people who all influence the lives of young people in a positive way.


Ball Awareness and Ball Attributes are two different things

Simply achieving Ball Awareness is not enough. Ball Attributes will be discussed shortly, but as an example, it is easy to see that the ball someone in grade school becomes aware of is quite different than the ball you are aware of as a spouse, a parent, and/or a professional in the workplace. Not only do you need to be aware of the ball, but you need to recognize that the ball changes and matures over time. This particular rule is important to keep in mind as you progress from a Believer (#2) to an Achiever (#1)

Think about how the challenges in life change for a student, as a family member, and during your career path:

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All of our challenges and expectations in these journeys will be different, and therefore each of the balls we aspire to stay on top off will be unique, and change over time.

Also understand in this model that "The Ball" is not a one size fits all ball. People can excel in their careers, but struggle to be a good spouse or parent, and vice versa. Students might be outstanding in the classroom, and get excellent grades, but have challenges socially.

No one is proposing that someone has to be on the ball in every facet of their life all the time, but it is important to acknowledge that life is complex, and having awareness all around, and respective plans to address when you are not on a given ball at a given moment, is very important. For example, I know people who sacrificed personal wellness to stay on the ball professionally. In taking a step back and evaluating both professional and personal aspects of life, they made some adjustments in both areas, were able to stay on the ball at work, while getting back on the health and fitness ball.

Ball Awareness is Elastic

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A ball is never permanent, and as circumstances change, our understanding of a given ball, and how we learn and react to those circumstances, will influence what quadrant we're in at a given time.

You might start as an Achiever (#1), with an understanding of the ball, and being on it. Then, some circumstance occurs that causes a change in the ball - things become more challenging, the rules have changed, etc., yet you haven't learned about those yet, and have migrated from A to B. You still have "on the ball" skills, but haven't learned about the new ball yet.

Once you have new Ball Awareness, and migrate from B to C, you now need to plan to get back on this new ball - from Believer (#2) to Achiever (#1), and migrate to D. Over time, this loop from B to C to D starts to become second nature, as we realize the balls in our life are constantly changing, and we need to regularly look to learn about what's changed, how we need to react, and how to get back on the ball very quickly.

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One recent example where we were all impacted was the COVID-19 global pandemic. Whether directly or indirectly, all of us had to learn new things, and react differently, in the early stages of the pandemic, and many of us who normally felt "on the ball" and in control were, to no fault of their own, thrown a massive curve ball. We did, over time, address challenges, redefined the ball, and got back on, but it serves as a textbook example as to understanding that our standard is not constant.

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