If all you got out of that last colorful paragraph is blah blah blah football, I get it; you're not a fan of the game, but please don't tune out just yet. Relax, this isn't actually about sports at all, but for gridiron girls like me (and lots of men) this will make for an easy metaphor.
I'm actually talking about relationships and listening. (Now I'm losing the football fans! Oh well, can't please everyone.) Most men and lots of women like to keep conversations shallow; they don't want to risk going deep. Unfortunately if our conversations aren't deep our relationships can't be either. It's only as we break below the surface of casual information that we can truly know one another.
Why, then do we opt for short passes (a tiny hint of meaningful sharing), hand-offs (exchanging pleasantries, then quickly moving on) or scrambling and running with the ball ourselves (How's it goin'? See ya!) It's much safer, takes a lot less energy and requires much less time to maintain conversations (and relationships) at a superficial level.
Clearly throwing the long bomb means there is much more to lose, but there is also potential for huge gain. In this metaphor, we're all quarterbacks of our own teams. The decision-making and execution of what to do with the ball (each conversation) rests with us. Face it; it hurts to get slammed to the ground (if someone rejects us), it's disappointing when the intended receiver drops the pass (doesn't reciprocate) and it's humiliating if the pass is intercepted (our friend beats a hasty retreat). But, no pain—no gain comes to mind (what metaphor would be complete without a cliché?)
Next time you run into a neighbor at the mailbox, see an old college friend at a game or begin a chat with the parent of your kid's best pal; risk it! Be decisive and initiate a deeper conversation. It's pretty exciting when you see their eyes light up and a connection is made. And no one ever died from a flubbed pass or a failed conversation.
The reward will be worth it as significant friendships are formed. When the time comes that you need support, kindness and sympathy (and it will come) your risk of throwing the long pass will pay off. What is the touchdown experience? Being surrounded by loving, caring people to pick you up and keep you from getting hit again.What's keeping you from going deep? Comment about a failed attempt or a time when you went deep and scored a friendship.