Pickle Ball, Leadership and How to Get Better

Nov 06, 2023

At a certain level, you can feel very comfortable as well as powerful in your ability to handle whatever comes your way in that expertise. It’s an awesome feeling and well-earned. But there is also a power in allowing yourself to become a novice and start from scratch in something else.

In this episode, I talk about the value (and fun) of bringing new learning and new areas into your life. Going back through that process of starting fresh, not knowing what to do, and being humble enough to learn is very illuminating. It’s also invigorating and can improve all the parts of you… physical, mental and emotional. Let’s talk about it.

“Everything we attempt to learn and get better at will eventually become hard. And it is what you do in that moment that matters most.” – Kris Plachy

What You’ll Learn

  • Working with an expert
  • Doing uncomfortable things
  • Are you qualified?
  • Everything we attempt will get hard
  • Process of becoming

Contact Info and Recommended Resources

Book: The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner 

Connect with Kris Plachy

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  • FREE! Get Kris’ Lead With Confidence Masterclass video and the downloadable PDF at  thevisionary.ceo/leadwithconfidence.
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Work with Kris and Her Team: 

Email: [email protected]






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Welcome, welcome to the podcast. Let's talk about how to be better. Here we go.

Well, hi, welcome to the podcast. I'm Kris Plachy. Welcome, welcome to Leadership is Feminine. If you're brand new here, I'm glad you're here. If you've been around a while, thank you for tuning in. This week I want to talk to you about my new favorite thing, which is pickleball. Y'all probably heard me mention that a little bit.

My friend Brooke turned me on to this a few months ago, and then I kind of just keep playing. And now my husband plays with me, and we've joined a club where there's pickleball and all the things. But it's really cool because I have a lot I want to say.

But, I think for most people who listen to this podcast, you're really good at something. You likely have a company, or you're a leader in a business and you're good at something. You have skill. You're an expert, right? There's something that happens when we become experts in our field. I see this with my clients. Like you can almost get a little, I don't want to say bored, but the challenge to grow isn't as prevalent because you really have learned a lot. It's not that you know everything.

I certainly do not profess to be, you know, be all end all, but I certainly have a level of expertise. Which means in my mind, there's really nothing that a client could bring to me that I would feel like I couldn't help them solve, and that's a really awesome position to be in right after all these years of doing what I do. It's very powerful. But there's also something to be said for those of us who are experts in some area to also be willing to be novices in something else and to go back through the process of learning how to be good and how to be better.

And so, I could certainly think about my life as a coach and all the things that I've done to improve my coaching skill and the way that I connect and support my clients. But actually, playing pickleball is probably the most current and illuminating exercise for me to watch myself go through the process of getting better. It's both physical and mental and emotional. You don't leave your brain behind, which means all the thoughts and all the feelings show up.

And so I thought what we would talk about here is the transition of being good at something or not good at something, to becoming better at something,, to becoming an expert in something. Because I can speak for myself and maybe you can relate to this, but as somebody who has developed a level of expertise, I also only really want to work with people who are experts in whatever they do.

I think it's part of why a lot of us are so exhausted with, and also almost desensitized by the amount of content and information that's in the world. And all the people who claim to be experts and all the people who know how to do things, when really what they just want to do is sell you stuff and buy their expertise rather than work with them as an expert. And over the past few weeks past few months I've had the opportunity to work with higher experts for myself in my personal life and my business and I get the expert. I don't- sure they have stuff. There's road maps things they want me to do. That's fine. But they show up.

So to me, expertise is- becoming an expert allows us to value other people's expertise is my point. And every time I try and do a shortcut and I think, Oh, this person will help me or their thing will help me. I always end up woefully disappointed because what I really want is an expert. I want somebody who will look at me and say, "Oh, Kris, this is what you have. This is why you're here. This is what we can do. This is the four steps you need to do tomorrow." That is invaluable to me.

So here I am playing pickleball. Good at my own life, really terrible at pickleball. Now, I have relatively good skill. I have good hand eye coordination and stuff, but my body is a little older. My knees don't work as well. I'm not quite as quick on the court as I would like to be.

And so, it makes me think about a book that I read years ago by Thomas Sterner called The Practicing Mind. And he talks about that so many of us want to be exceptional at what we do. But we just want to like, go to the first pickleball lesson and then be amazing. And if we're not amazing, then we get frustrated and we don't keep going. And his whole point is that becoming exceptional at something is not about where you begin. And it's not really about where you finish. It's really about the practice. It's developing the practice of becoming good. And that's where all the joy is.

So I've been watching myself as I learn how to play pickleball. So the very first day that I learned, I worked with my friend, I showed up and she just put me on the court and we started playing and she was explaining the rules and so forth. If you've never played pickleball, the rules are like half the battle. Learning what the rules are and how to score and, how to call out the score. All of that. So I got very direct, specific instruction, which was essential for me to get better, to learn something and get better.

And that's something we teach in all the work that we do. It's called skills transfer. Do, tell, show, tell, do, review, show, tell, do, review. All of us need when we don't know what we're doing. We need somebody who will do that. And then it was all about practice. And ever since then, that's what it's all been about. So everywhere I've had a chance to play pickleball, I will play and I will get feedback. You know, your racket is pointing upwards. Or, you should try this. Or, you need to move your feet this way or whatever.

And I get a lot of feedback and I've just watched how I hear the feedback and then I want to see how I can integrate it. And I'm overwhelmed by there being so much to think about while I play. And at the same time, it doesn't deter me from playing. Because why? Because I want to get better. I want to get better.

I don't need to be, you know, traveling team, expert champion. I just want to get better. Because the better I get, the more fun I'm going to have. The easier it will be just to go out and play and I don't have to be so in my conscious incompetence, right? That's the phases of learning, which is absolutely where I am right now.

It's like, I know how to hit the ball and yet I keep hitting it wrong. So I know that if I do this, the ball will go that way. And yet I keep doing that, right? I know if I run up to the kitchen, I'm more likely to hit the ball, but then I don't. So there's all this, and all this is going on in my mind the whole time.

And I think about the women that we work with who come in, they're really struggling. They want to get better at leading and managing and working with their team. They want to get better, right? Because you see other people doing that. And you think, "Oh, I want to be, I want to get better. I want to not be so stressed out. I want to make better decisions with my team. I want to hire different people. I want to be faster at firing people. I want to be able to have difficult conversations."

But the truth is, the only way to get better it's to work with an expert who can give you feedback directly, that you don't take personally, and then you go and guess what you do? You practice. And you fail. And you practice. And you fail. And you practice. And you fail. And we have to notice that we go from, I want to be good at something, so we decide to start. Then, we start and we get really bad at it. We have that initial result of, I'm playing, it's so fun, but I'm not very good. And then it gets difficult.

And that to me is where all of us, that's where the rubber meets the road. That's where we continue on the path of getting better, or we give up because it's too hard. It's not because you don't enjoy it. It's not because it wouldn't be great for you. It's because the discomfort of not knowing, while you're getting expert feedback, is more painful than just ignoring it. Which of course we know that's not true.

And so, through this journey of playing pickleball, I've gone and done a few things. And I, you know, when I was in Hawaii, I played pickleball. I went out to open play and I didn't know anybody. I was all by myself. There were like 50 people out there. Everybody's playing pickleball and you just put your paddle down and you get in line, and then you get to go up with whoever's the next team of people. And so I did that and then I didn't play very well. And then I went back out and I wanted to play again.

So I put my paddle back down and this guy that had been playing with me before saw that my paddle was with his paddle and he went and he moved it. He took it away because he didn't want to play against me or on my team. I don't blame him. I'm not very good. People who are really good want to play with people who are really good.

But we also have to remember, as experts, that everybody has to start somewhere. So we all got to kind of play the game if we want to have more better players, right? We all have to be willing that all people are not going to be experts that you run into and that doesn't mean they're not worth you helping.

But regardless, my point being, I've been woefully embarrassed. I have felt total shame when I can't serve the ball and it never fails. My husband and I play, I can play fine. I serve. It always goes right where it needs to go. We start playing a doubles and I, my serve, I'm like, where did the serve go? Like, why am I hitting the ball like that? Who am I? I can serve. And then when I play against people, I can't serve.

I'm just telling you this because I think as grownups, there's a great quote that's: when was the last time you did something for the first time? Because we do get so comfortable in our expertise and the things that we know how to do that we don't put ourselves in a position of trying new things. And it does render us stagnant and bored and unstimulated. Especially if you're like who I think you are, which is most of my clients, which is a woman of ambition, a woman of ideas, a woman who likes to experience her life.

So we have to be willing to do things that are, are less comfortable simply because it's good for our brain. But then I heard something else the other day, and I wish I could remember where I heard it. So I feel terrible about that. But it was a question, and it was sort of posited in the notion of how we all say, I wish I was better at this. Or, I would love to be better at running my business. I would love to be better at leading people. I would love to be better at making money. I would love to be better at taking care of myself. I would love to be better at... right, whatever it is. And the question that was posited was, are you qualified to achieve what you say you want to achieve? Are you qualified?

And it was so powerful because I thought to myself, am I qualified to be better at pickleball in this case? And the answer is no. I haven't done the time yet. I haven't done enough practice yet. I haven't gotten enough lessons yet. I am not qualified to be exceptional at pickleball. That doesn't mean I quit.

Are you qualified to address challenges on the team, or are you just hoping you'll be good at it? Have you actually done the work and worked with an expert and developed the practice, and become, and failed at it enough times, that you've developed your own personal expertise? If you want to be better with money, are you qualified? Have you learned everything you can learn that you need to learn about managing or making money?

Cause I think most of us have more we could do, but a lot of us just say, I wish I was. We're not willing to invest in becoming qualified. And I think it's a powerful question. Not in like, you suck if you're not. But just, let's tell the truth.

I wish I could knew how to take better care of myself. Okay. Are you qualified? Do you understand your body? Have you invested in that? Have you prioritized it? It's not a bad answer here. It's just the truth, right? So for me, learning how to play pickleball has just illuminated what it's like to learn how to get better.

And so this past weekend, my husband and I went and played. Now we've joined a gym – shout out to Lifetime – so that we can. Because they have 16 courts and there's always one available, and they're beautiful, and they have clinics, and they have lessons and they have open play. So it's all the things. And the open play is managed by the pro. So you get put with people who are your skill. It's all the things that I really would like, because I want to be able to play even when my husband's working.

But we went this weekend, we played. He and I played seven games, and I have yet to beat him. He and I have been playing now for three months together. I have never beat him. And it was on this weekend that I started to get really, really discouraged. And I watched how I was having a tantrum. And my brain, I was mad. I was mad at myself. I was mad at him because he kept hitting such good shots. Why would he do that to me? And I kept hitting the ball out. I kept not hitting. I was absolutely a mess and it didn't matter. I just kept losing. I kept losing and I couldn't, I could not get my head out of it.

And I all of a sudden I just had this thought like, okay, this is not a bad thing here. Plachy, you are outside. It's a gorgeous morning. You're with your husband. You're both healthy. Get over yourself. Just have some fun. This is fun. You're moving your body. You've hardly thought about anything other than this for an hour and a half. Which, by the way, I think is my favorite thing, aside from getting exercise that goes by super fast. I think that pickleball is the best thing ever for my adult onset ADHD that I've ever felt in my life because I don't think about anything else.

It's like a total brain relaxation experience because all I'm doing is focusing on where's the ball. Where's the ball? Where's the ball? I'm not thinking about all the things going on in my life. Because when I walk for exercise, which I also love, my brain goes like a hundred miles an hour and I have to write notes while I'm walking and I have to do all that. But when I play pickleball, man, I am all in. Totally grounded. It's amazing. I love it.

So everything we attempt to learn and get better at will eventually become hard. And it is what you do in that moment that will always matter most. I remember that an old mentor of mine said, nobody ever really fails. They just quit before they succeed. And maybe that sounds sort of trite, but I actually think it's very true. And if you want something, like if you want ease, if I want the ease of going out on that pickleball court and feeling adept and capable, I don't need to be a rock star champion. I'm not.

That's fine. That's not my goal. My goal is to be socially capable, to play at a social level and have a good time, and not feel like I don't know what I'm doing or that I'm just not, I'm the partner and nobody wants on their team. I want to just go have a good time. Am I willing to continue, even though I still feel quite incompetent because I love the goal.

And I just want you to think about what is it? We're getting to the end of the year here. I know you're all going to start thinking about your lives and your goals and la la la la la la la. Right. But let's think about it. What do you really want to get qualified to be good at? What do you really want? Are you willing to make that investment, despite the challenge? It doesn't matter what we start doing. It doesn't actually matter if we get the award.

And I think those of us who've achieved big goals will tell you, it's great to win, to achieve the goal. And then it's over. What's amazing is becoming the person through practice and growth and learning that is good at something. Because it's that process of becoming that is the most rewarding.

But I think a lot of us are overlooking that because we're so hell bent on getting good, that we don't enjoy and savor the process. We get all up in our heads. We get all up in our ego. Like I said, you start feeling shame, start feeling embarrassment. You start feeling anger. You start feeling frustration. All those things start to interfere with what should be fun, what should be entertaining, should be interesting, should be scintillating, it should be challenging, it should feel like you're stretching. But when we're only focused on the win, we miss the joy of the practice.

So if you haven't read The Practicing Mind, I'd love for you to read that one. It's a good one. He uses golf as his example. And it doesn't obviously have to be a physical sport, but I can certainly tell you now, after working with female entrepreneurs for years, the women that I still work with in my Sage program, these are the women who were willing to let it be hard. To fail. They were willing to get feedback. They were willing to course correct. They were willing to think about lots of things at once to try and make it all work. They were willing to become qualified, to become the leaders of their business that they wanted to be. Instead of just thinking they should be or thinking they never would be.

Most things are attainable if you stick with it, if you're willing to alter what you do. And you know, the last pickleball analogy I'll use is literally how you hold the racket. So I hold the racket a certain way. And when I went to some lessons, they were like, "Well, you need to move your hand a little bit."

Okay, seriously, I've only played for 2 months changing the way I hold the racket feels impossible. I've already developed like this comfort with how I hold the racket. And so then I'm in resistance to what the experts telling me, when actually he knows what he's talking about. Because if I change the way I hold the racket, the paddle stays straighter. I don't hit as many balls over to the right or to the left, right? I don't have to work as hard. I'm not using my wrist as much.

There's so many things that I can do better, but we very quickly get rote memory and then it gets even harder. So we have to be willing to say, if I want to be exceptional at this, if I want to become an expert at this, I have to be willing to challenge everything.

I think I know and, just argue. If you aren't, it's okay. But then stop saying you wish you could be an expert or really good at something. Because if you're not willing to, don't set yourself up like that. So I, I don't know why pickleball is such an absolute craze right now. It really is. I'm sure you're annoyed.

And some of you are listening to this, some of you didn't even finish listening to it, but there's a reason why. And I really do think it's because of the age of the pickleballers is upwards of 40 plus, 45 plus. And I think it's because it's challenging, it's physical, it's active, it's fun. And it's putting us all in a position of like, Oh, I could do something I can learn. And I can, I have the ability to get better. It's not about anybody else here. This is my jam for me.

And I think as adults we don't keep playing enough and I don't just mean physically. I mean, also emotionally and mentally and intellectually. And we don't play enough with ideas and with change and with things that are new. And so we get stale and stagnant. And so when you start to do something fun - and it's just, pickleball's easy because so many people are doing it and so many people are new at it - but that thing that you say that you want to be better at, are you willing?

You will need to become qualified to be better and go through the process of learning and growing and failing, and growing and failing, and growing and so on and so on. I think it's worth it. And I also know on the back end, that for me as an expert, I will only work with experts. And I think it's okay to say that, but that doesn't mean that I'm not willing to be a novice first with whoever these experts are that I hire.

So those are my big words for this week. It's a long one. I don't usually talk this much.

Hope you have a great week. Thanks for tuning in. Talk to you next time.

Lead for Women is now open for registration. If you're a woman and you are also a visionary, somebody who sees the world differently than it is, and you are eager to achieve that through your work and by leveraging the hearts and minds of others, then I invite you to go to thevisionary.CEO/lead and learn everything you can about our Lead program.

While it's not for everyone, it really is for you if you are a woman who is ready to learn how to think better, so you can lead better, and you can live better. You have a legacy to leave here and I wanna help you leave it by enhancing and improving how you show up as a woman who leads. Join us there.

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