Why Didn’t I think of this before? The Life Lesson that I Learned at a Tennis Clinic

Disruptor – I thought it was just the name of a Pearl Jam song.

It’s a term that I learned about a few weeks ago at a tennis clinic, although I’m sure that most (savvier than me) people have already heard of it.

In tennis, it has to do with your opponent disrupting your rhythm or comfortable playing style. If you like to hit hard, they hit soft, lob or drop shot. I hate those matches, honestly. They are not fun and I often lose to opponents who are, in my opinion, not as good/athletic as me. And then I complain about losing and how “not fun” the match was. I take my long car ride home kicking myself for not respecting their game and forcing my way of hitting on them which, clearly, didn’t work.

The coaches at this clinic (the awesome Billy and Matt Previdi) told us that not only should we respect disruptors, but that we should become one. What? Why would I lower myself to that?

Because that’s how you win. Unless, of course, I don’t want a winning outcome, but to stay in my comfort zone – playing the same way that I usually do, but losing.

In business, disruption can lead to innovation. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen describes disruption as something that “displaces and industry or market and produces something new, more worthwhile or efficient.” Forbes.com describes disruption as both, “destructive and creative.” Think Invisalign vs braces.

Sudden disruptions can happen to us at any time. For example, I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). When I was first diagnosed, I thought, “how am I going to live with this for the rest of my life?” It felt unfair, punitive, and overwhelming. Over time, I have learned how to manage it and see it as an impetus for positive, healthy living. It’s almost like I feel accountable to it. It’s the reason that I see exercise as a form of stress management, yoga as a healthy way to get a buzz, and am empowered by what my body can do as opposed to how my body looks.

I think the reason the concept of a ‘disruptor’ resonated with me because I realized that is what PCOS is.

It produced a new, efficient and worthwhile way of life.

It was both destructive and creative. Now, I can’t imagine living without it.

I see some women who could eat and drink whatever they wanted, struggling with weight gain after a pregnancy, or just over time as we have aged. I notice that many use food or alcohol as their only means of stress release (I do drink, by the way, just in case my friends are reading this and want to call me out). I hear women in stores and dressing rooms everywhere bemoaning not fitting into a pair of jeans or dreading bathing suit season. I’m not criticizing these women because I was one of these women. It’s just that I’m mostly over it now.

I’ve learned to love my lowest sustainable weight, not my skinny weight.

I’m proud that I can run a race or go on a long hike or bike ride on short notice because I stay active all of the time. I’m proud that my girls are more interested in their cross country running times than the size of their jeans, and that they think it’s worthwhile to empower other girls as opposed to competing for space, popularity or social media likes with them.

I’m proud because I never thought I would be a proponent of these behaviors before I was diagnosed with PCOS, and now I model them for my girls.

I’ve learned to respect and not fear the disruptor. Because of it, new inventions, systems and lives can be generated.

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