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Potlatch 2005

Last week's instant karma was, "Give yourself freedom to fail." I managed to use this when I was playing at Potlatch this past weekend. It helped: both Jane and Mark independently told me they have never seen me play better than I played this weekend. I'm very happy to hear those words.

I used that mantra and two others to help me before the start of every game and the start of every point I played. I'm guessing it helped based on Mark and Jane's comments.

Before the second game on Saturday, which was also the second game of the tournament, at the end of the team warmups, someone (I think it was Kris) said, "Do whatever it takes to psych yourself up." I'm surprised I heard the words: they weren't said loudly. But, I took them to heart.

At the beginning of every point, as I stood on the line waiting for the pull, I gave myself the freedom to fail (fail to defend fully, fail to throw the perfect throw, fail to make the perfect catch). And then I did whatever it took to psych myself up, which meant deciding to play hard.

The difference between deciding to play hard and making no decision is a big deal. The team's energy helps in making that decision. If the team is excited to play hard, then playing harder is easier, but it still has to be an individual's (conscious or unconscious) decision to play harder. On the line, I chose to play harder.

Mid-Sunday, I added a third line to my mental chatter on the line, waiting for a pull. During a point, after a turnover, I was jogging back to the stack, when I heard Kris' voice from the sideline: "Run hard."

At the time I wasn't sure if he was talking directly to me, or the team as a whole, but I always seem to hear his voice over the rush of the game and the cacophany of the crowd. Run hard.

And I did.

I ran as hard as I could that possession. I ran as hard as I could that point. I ran as hard as I could that game.

And at the end of that game, after we had won, sitting tired and exhausted in the circle talking about the game and the day, Jane came up to me and said she had never seen me play so well. I had become, in her words, one of those wily veteran handler types.

Thank you, Jane. Those words mean so much to me.

We ended up ranked 16th at the beginning of the third day. Our first game of the day was against Team USA, who was ranked first for the tournament, having been ranked first for the whole tournament. We played scared. I dropped an easy disc thrown to me, but caused a turnover with an aggressive mark. We lost 15-7, handily beating the over/under betting score of 4.

Our next game was against Brass Monkey, who had spent most of the morning before the first game complaining they should be ranked higher than 9th. In as much as they lost the 8 vs 9 game first thing in the morning, I had to agree with the tournament organizers in their ranking.

Worse for them, we beat them by two points, to send them down into the 13-16 rankings, as we climbed up to the 9-12 rankings. The worst we could do was 12th. Hot Damn.

I continued to give myself the freedom to fail, do whatever I needed to do to psyche myself up, and run hard. I had a great time. Mischief finished 10th out of 100 teams. And I had the best tournament of my life.

Maybe there's something to this self-forgiveness: allowing myself the freedom to fail and discovering I can succeed.