Things I’m learning about tennis and Tim McGraw:

I played a game of tennis with my new friend Fabio yesterday. I’m a beginner (at best). Fabio is not.

I tried my best to keep up, but felt a little silly making so many mistakes. It was more than once that I swung for the ball and missed it completely! I felt like a baseball player at bat and striking out. The only difference: my tennis racket has a surface area of 98 square inches while a baseball bat.. doesn’t.

Fabio was friendly and patient. Even when he was taking it easy on me, I could see that his technique was excellent. Great form, great execution. I knew I could learn from a great player like him, so on a short break I asked if he had any tips for me. He smiled and quietly said, “Keep your eye on the ball.”

“Keep your eye on the ball?” I thought to myself. I was expecting he might suggest corrections to my form, or teach me some secret way to hit the ball to increase power or make it spin like the pros. Instead, he offered advice that some might interpret as elementary, at best. He used a total of six words, and managed to keep me thinking for the rest of the day.

My favorite Tim McGraw song offers similar advice.

Hold the door, say "please", say "thank you" Don't steal, don't cheat, and don't lie I know you got mountains to climb But always stay humble and kind

Penned by songwriter Lori McKenna, “Humble and Kind” demonstrates the power of a simple lyric.

Go to church 'cause your mamma says to Visit grandpa every chance that you can It won't be wasted time Always stay humble and kind

At different points in my life, I’ve found different words and phrases stand out in particularly meaningful ways. It’s remarkable to me how so many valuable life lessons can be packed in to each line.

When the dreams you're dreamin' come to you When the work you put in is realized Let yourself feel the pride But always stay humble and kind

A particular example: one morning on a drive back to work from a meeting, I got an important piece of advice from one line in the song I hadn’t previously paid much attention to. I wouldn’t consider myself a person who holds grudges. I tend to be quick to forgive others and move on, at times maybe too quick. This particular morning when I heard the line “bitterness keeps you from flyin’” it struck me in a whole new way.

Don't expect a free ride from no one Don't hold a grudge or a chip and here's why: Bitterness keeps you from flyin' Always stay humble and kind

During a period where I ended up on the short end of a couple deals in a row, I had grown increasingly frustrated, not only with the music business, but with myself. I chose not to pursue an aggressive legal strategy I could’ve taken at the time, and I thought that meant I was taking the high road. What I didn’t realize is that the bitterness I was still holding on to was holding me back. I was letting the actions of others prevent me from being the best version of myself.

To borrow a silly analogy from one of the best people I’ve ever met (shout out to Mark @ HOBY Georgia), “it’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys.”

I felt like I was taking the “high road” by not filling lawsuits. But even the high road is still on the ground. By being bitter, I was only holding myself back from flyin’ - from being an authentic leader; from being remarkable.

“Keep your eye on the ball.”

A small handful of people in my life know that I’m back at school. I’ve just started an extraordinary learning program that span 3 years, and the application criteria was strategically architected in a way that fills these classrooms with global leaders, CEO’s, and entrepreneurs.

Utilizing the case study method, our professors have designed cases with seemingly recurring themes. Focus, refine, test, measure, iterate, remove. We’re being challenged to analyze both the cases and our own businesses and processes, forced to think critically and determine the things that are actually working. The things that we do well, and the things we don’t.

How often do we, as humans, as creatives, as business leaders, tend to overcomplicate things?

I struggle with spreading myself too thin. There’s so much I want to accomplish in life, that I want to achieve and create and experience. I’m constantly looking ahead to what’s next.

I learned yesterday that it’s certainly not a bad thing to be looking ahead, to be constantly planning our next shots. But let us not forget the basics. Remember to identify and keep your eye on the things that are most important. “Keep your eye on the ball.”

Don't take for granted the love this life gives you When you get where you're going don't forget turn back around And help the next one in line Always stay humble and kind