Playing To Win: On Peaks, Valleys + Your Fullest Potential

Playing To Win: On Peaks, Valleys + Your Fullest Potential

The loudest moments in life are usually followed by some sort of silence – and vice versa. Cheers and praise followed by crickets. Thoughtful moments followed by battle cries. It’s the quiet hum of the city right before it comes to life, the bustle of the sidewalks before we turn in for the night. It’s the ebb and flow of who we are.

As prevalent as they are, these shifts can catch us off-guard in a major way – and are many of the times we’re most likely to go to that dark place in our brain that tells us we are not enough. That we’re not smart enough, liked enough, that we’re not doing enough to make an impact.

When we’re sick or injured or going through an inactive lull, our bodies can start to feel out of place. Everything is connected: the brain, the heart, the body. They all affect one another. The voices that say we’re getting so-fat, or so-skinny, or so-gross can come out in full force simply because we’re not prepared to use our lows to their fullest potential. We just focus on the highs.

Those moments trap us; so that even when the highs come back again (they always do), we’re unprepared to tackle them the way we know best. We’ve been so caught up in the low of what we don’t have, we have forgotten all we do. When the highs start rolling in, we rush to prove our worth and desperately hide from the low we fear we are. We scramble to fill our cups the easiest way we can.

We get into the habit of playing not-to-lose, instead of playing to win.


When we’re not grounded in our highs and our lows, the universe usually sends us a signal. In my case, it literally hit me right over the head. Apparently, I was so jazzed on the response to WANT’s launch – heck, just the fact that it was out in the open after so long! – that very week I went and bonked my head and ended up with a mini concussion (note to self, always check to be sure you’re in the clear when you flip your newly hairspray’d head back over).

The thing about injuries of any kind is that you are forced to listen to your body and do what it tells you until it’s healed. Still amped up on the WANT launch, I was devastated to hear that I needed to spend the next few days resting up, doing nothing. And I mean nothing. No loud noises, no bright lights, no intricate conversations – no reading, writing, not even more than 20 minutes of mindless TV (thank goodness each episode of Friends is only about 20 minutes long). All I wanted was ride that WANT wave, and here I was not even being able to answer my emails.

Interestingly enough, it was exactly what I needed.

My life had been so loud lately, so outwardly vibrant. I needed to get back to what made me glow on the inside, reflect on that, then decide where to go from there. I had been riding a peak for so long, I hadn’t even realized what I really needed was to settle into a valley to soak it all in, reconnect, and see my next steps.

Valleys are when you’re in PRIME behind-the-scenes mode. They’re the perfect times to rest, recover, reflect, and plan. You’re in prime strategy-mode. Think of it as your car being in the shop. You’re getting fine-tuned and serviced so that you can perform to your fullest potential out on the road.

Peaks are when you’re at your best out in the world. They’re when you connect, communicate,  and actualize all those plans and visions you’ve . The times your car spends out on the road.

These peaks and valleys rely on each other to exist, even though we tend to glorify the peaks. Imagine a landscape with only the highest of peaks and no valleys – it would be a completely flat plane! The deeper you allow your valleys to resonate, the more prepared and grounded you’ll remain when the peaks come at you full-force.

A former version of Katie might have powered through her much-needed nothingness days – or, more likely, beat herself up on the inside for not being able to perform to her fullest. She would have dwelled on all the indoor cycling classes she had to get substitute teachers for, fearing her little sacred communities would forget about her and move onto someone hipper, newer, more mysterious (I am NOT mysterious). She would have noticed that her body felt differently due to the copious amounts of laying down and routine that was whack and gotten stressed that it was making permanent changes for the “worse.” Instead of playing to win, she would have gotten back on her feet forcing herself to make up for lost time. Instead of moving forward fearlessly with a new awareness, she would have feared the consequences of her absence and tried to prove her value. She would have played not-to-lose.

Listening to your body/life’s cues – a more sluggish or tired day, a slew of forward-moving conversations, electric excitement, some seemingly status-quo strings, inspiration, confusion, a desire to stay in vs. a desire to be out with others – can give you clues as to where and when your peaks and valleys come and go. After paying attention for a while, you’ll start to recognize patterns, and reassure yourself that each moment in time can be used to its fullest advantage. That everything can be in your favor. We’re just really good at convincing ourselves otherwise.

I heard the faint whispers of those voices start to creep in while I was down for the count, sure. But I also knew to draw from all the experiences in my life to tell me that those feelings of low worth and stagnation would pass quicker than I realized if I only let them. Using your valleys strategically always means that your peaks will be even higher.

We sometimes forget that it’s the quiet moments in which the magic happens. The big moments are when it all comes to life, but those moments of silence? Those are when we build our power.

The combo of the two is how we play to win.


WANT yourself Action Plan:
Which part of this resonated with you the most? How do you handle your own peaks and valleys? Do you have any tips, tricks or strategies for the WANT community that keep you in the moment and on a forward-moving path? If you play not-to-lose, what is one change you can make right now to play to win?


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2 comments

  1. Monica says:

    Hi!

    I’m one of the co-founders of a social fitness app that is all about motivating and inspiring people to live their healthiest selves. Our app launches in January of this year and has caught on like wildfire with 1.2 Million in app activities monthly growing exponentially every week. We have tapped into a very real, raw desire for people to inspire and help each other and I see the same thing in this amazing blog. I would love to talk about potential collaboration opportunities. Could you email me directly at monica@burnthis.com? Excited to connect!

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