What Ultimate Frisbee Can Teach You About Life

Last night I returned home from one of the largest and most amazing ultimate frisbee tournaments in the country - Potlatch.  Over 100 teams and about 2,000 people fly, drive, walk, bike, or bus to Redmond, WA every 4th of July weekend to not only play ultimate, but to be in community, to share a meaningful experience and to connect with others while playing games, having time-out dance parties and just being a little ridiculous.  Some have termed Potlatch "Summer Camp for Adults" or Burning Man for the ultimate frisbee community, either way, it is a unique and special experience that feels hard to describe upon returning home.  I am going to do my best to share some lessons I have learned from being a part of the ultimate frisbee community for over 10 years and how I think it can help us lead a more awesome life! 


Lesson #1 - Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously

While many teams come to Potlatch to play hard and win games - something else tends to override that, which is to HAVE FUN!  We won 7 out of 9 games that we played over the weekend and all the while, throwing hammers (a throw known to most ultimate players as a less reliable option) most of the time. Our cheer all weekend was, "Hammers win games!" It was silly and ridiculous, and we could hardly believe that we won so many games. I actually think that one of the reasons that we were winning is that it was more important for us to have fun than it was to win.  Sometimes in life, we want to play hard and win, and because of that we tend to take ourselves too seriously and that can actually get in the way of winning or helping us get to where we want to go in life.  There have been many times when I am working on a project and get frustrated because I am not as far along as I want to be or writing a talk that doesn't feel "good enough".  When I start to get overwhelmed by the process, I have learned to take a step back and say to myself, "If I'm not having fun, then I'm doing it wrong."  While not everything can be rainbows and butterflies and there will be things that we don't want to do, remember we have a choice on where we put our energy.  When you start to take yourself too seriously, find a way to surround yourself with people who help you play, have fun, and enjoy the journey!  



Many people I know LOVE going to ultimate frisbee tournaments because they feel a unique sense of community.  They feel connected to the people that show up because of their shared values around playing hard and also (and more importantly) having a really, really, really good time.  I find that people easily connect in this time warp known as Potlatch.  They share food and tents and water, they ask each others names, they cheer each other on and they want everyone around them to have a good time as well!  When we have a shared experience with others the walls tend to go down and people are more real.   I was thinking about that in relation to people finding their place in the world.  Who are "your people"?  The people who help you feel more like yourself, who allow you to make mistakes, who challenge you to be better?  I believe that we are all searching to find our tribe, and I encourage you to find the people and the experiences that fill you up and light you up and help you be more awesome.


Lesson #3 - Hang Out With People Who Believe in You 

The whole weekend our team was positive, encouraging and all-around super supportive.  People messed up and no one said anything negative. A missed catch, a bad throw, getting scored on, it happens in ultimate all the time, but what I love is that even if you mess up or make a mistake, there was no negative commentary at all.  People were kind, motivating, and encouraging and I felt like I could try new things and take risks without people judging or blaming me for messing up. What an amazing environment to be in?  How would your life be different if the people around you refused to let you fail?  By this I mean, what would be possible, if the people in your life really encouraged you to go for it in the face of your own fears or insecurities.  Find those people in your life that lift you up, that see your potential and encourage you to be better than you already are! 


Overall, I had a blast this weekend and more importantly connected with some amazing people who are kind and generous and just a really, really, really good time.  Ultimate frisbee has a unique way of bringing people together and connecting them through a shared experience.  What are the experiences that you are drawn to?  Who are the people that believe in you?  How can you take yourself a little less seriously, so that you can enjoy the ride along the way?

Go out there and be more awesome!  :)