I hadn’t bowled in quite a few years…but last night I had the opportunity to do so with a large group of friends and co-workers. Today, I firmly believe…that my arm is going to fall off.

And, oh…the competition. The mocking, the side bets, and the “getting in your head comments.” It was all flying haphazardly…and, frequently. A fun time had by all.

Keeping a fifteen pound ball in the center of the lane…

How hard could it be?

There were those of us who struggled mightily to keep the ball out of the gutter…compared to those who had that just-right spin, form, and follow-through. We secretly hated (and admired) the formula and strike-ability of the top scorers. “They obviously took some lessons,” I heard a co-worker say.

We all came away with either bruised egos, elevated egos, or in my case a bruised right hip, an aching back, a sore arm, and a blistered thumb. Other than that, I am personally recovering nicely.

Bowling. Who thought up this game of so much pain and misery?

Word has it that the oldest evidence of bowling was discovered by archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie in 1930. He discovered stone bowling balls and pins in the grave of an Egyptian child from 5200 BC. However, the first written reference to bowling dates to 1366, when King Edward III of England banned his troops from playing the game so that they would not be preoccupied from their archery exercises. Who knew archery practice superseded bowling?

Bowling. Simple, yet complex. The objective is just to keep the ball in the middle of the lane. Easier than it sounds, right?

Knock all of the pins down and you get a strike. If you don’t knock them down on your first turn, you get a second try. How nice of the creator of the game to provide us that option!

But wait…I get nine more opportunities to roll that ball down the lane after my first attempt? Yes, nine more opportunities to try, and try, and try again. Now I know why that fifteen pound ball felt more like 115 pounds by the time I headed home! “Grab the heating pad and Band-Aids, honey!”

There are several stories and claims as to where bowling actually got its start. Either way you look at it, whoever developed the current style of the game…bowling is really just a game of chance. If you hit the pins just right, then you have the chance to knock everything down. But wait, you have a second occasion if you don’t. Hurray for me!

In life, we are all typically provided first and second chances…and sometimes, if we are lucky, there are multiple opportunities to improve our game.

In baseball, if we strike out at bat, we come up to home plate for second, third, and sometimes four chances. In football, another set of downs provides us multiple chances to move the ball down the field. In golf, we have eighteen holes and multiple opportunities on each hole to move the ball down the fairway…how easy is that?!

You obviously haven’t watched me play golf.

Insurance, like any other occupation, is a game of chance. We know that there are times that we will knock down all ten opportunities we face in any given day. And, if we don’t, we know that tomorrow is another break for us to pick up that pin or two…that next prospect or two. It’s a second chance.

And, if we happen to get a strike, we know that on the next opportunity we may or may not be so lucky. But, we persist on trying. We keep practicing.

Life is full of second chances…keep practicing, improving, and keep those momentums moving down the lane or field of play. You’re going to get sore sometimes, but the more you practice the more the tenderness subsides. It becomes natural.

Think of it this way, if all you had to do all day long, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year…was bowl, you’d find a way, eventually, to knock all of the pins down on the first try. You’d practice…learn how to create the right spin, form, follow-through, have good days, bad days, and days to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. And, you’d get up and do it all over again the next morning.

Someone once told me that “practice doesn’t make perfect…only perfect practice makes perfect.”

So, when you’re looking for clients, remember everyone is looking to get that strike on the very first try…and everyone is in it to win. Everyone is practicing to be better than yesterday.

It takes a mindset, focus, and determination. There’s bound to be gutter balls along the way, but a determined person looks for the next opportunity to throw strikes today, tomorrow, and long-term.

Keep rolling that ball down the middle of the lane! And, practice doing it again tomorrow…and the next day…and the next. Soon enough, you’ll be gaining new clients, retaining current clients, and throwing strikes on every turn!

Perfect practice.

I’m going to go take some ibuprofen now.