These thoughts are to help and inspire people like you and me to reach higher and strive for greater things, to stand for a cause more noble than self serving, seeing the good in others and seeking it for their sake. I unashamedly weave my faith, biblical insight and life experiences into a sporting context to illustrate my personal journey to this point - I hope in a small way, I can help you on your journey to being all you were intended to be....

There are now over 50 posts to check out, tweet, link to facebook or google+ Please feel free to share a link BUT If you use any of the illustrations please acknowledge the source as Phil Manchester, Bradford, England. You can follow me on twitter @philmanchester

Friday, 24 February 2012

When running through the phases isnt enough

Structure and process are important. There can be no denying that without form, or some kind of pattern, sport, business, church and life in general can degenerate into a collection of unrelated events or stilted movement. Process is important to ensure there is continuity and to take the focus off living for events or the spectacular and a continuous need to hit a high. Sometimes, we just have to keep on  with life. In sport, keeping the score board ticking along is important. In rugby for example, running patiently through the phases is key to making progress and securing possession. However, there are times when pressing "refresh" or introducing a shift or a change is essential to being a winner.

I was listening to a commentary from a rugby match recently and the summariser said "that's 35 phases, they have worked through, they simply can't break through this resolute defence". That set me thinking "either the defence was strong", or perhaps "the other side were totally bereft of ideas or didn't have players with the ability to see beyond a one dimensional model of play. Doing the same thing can be strength sapping and safe at the same time - you see, there is no risk attached to process.

Some of the most exciting games of rugby I have seen have been those in which an individual player or a team totally disrupt a standard pattern of play. They can see gaps that others cant see. They have a speed of thought and spatial awareness that can spot open spaces behind defenders. They have the perception to realise the norm isn't working and something else is needed. The line between success and failure is determined by the risks we are prepared to take on the field and sometimes in life.

Broken play is messy. There are risks attached to chipping a ball over someones head into space and trying to run through. There is the possibility that a forward getting into a line of slick passing backs could totally miss-time a pass and give away an interception. But its exciting. Especially when the alternative is 35 phases of grind and lateral movement. Lets not be too harsh on players with their heads down, engaged in their personal battles with their opposite numbers. After all, when you're in the thick of the action, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture, particularly if you are personally under pressure.

The bible records an incredible moment, when the man's man Jesus invites his friend Peter to climb over the side of the boat, defy convention, his own fears and the natural order of things and step onto water. Whatever your belief system, I guess like me you'd accept its a pretty spectacular or radical thing to ask a man to do. But then, that's what the man's man did and still does. He challenges the notion that simply running through the phases is enough. God knows, life can be pretty mundane and he equally knows how we respond to it. The challenge he offers us is to see it from a different perspective. To maybe take a risk on something different - after all, isn't that what faith is - taking a risk, a step into the unknown or unfamiliar?

If running through the phases isn't getting you anywhere near scoring the try or making that touch-down, or hitting that home run, you've been striving for or aiming at - how about you try stepping out over the side of the boat, take a risk, do something different - the neat thing about what Jesus asked Peter to do, was: it was no more than he was doing himself - that's what I like about the man's man. Are you happy running through the phases? What do you need to do differently? Listen for his voice above the sound of the wind and the waves, he may just be asking you to step out of the boat....