Sunday, September 27, 2009

"He's Goin' Deep!"

A Football Metaphor

He's going deep! This is always the most exciting proclamation we can hear while watching (American) football (second only to Touchdown!) It means the receiver is running all-out, giving everything he's got to get to the far end of the field at the precise moment that long pass is intended to drop into his hands. We are riveted as we know this is a huge risk, but that something exciting and wonderful hangs in the balance. Or that we could be in for a massive disappointment if he drops the ball—worse, if it's intercepted by the other team.

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.
Diane Markins


Anonymous said...

There you go again, Diane. Talking about stuff that really matters (sports AND relationships -- ha).

I'm lucky to have several guy friends interested in talking about more than yesterday's game. They know how to go deep. A few weeks ago, I was meeting one of them for breakfast. I showed up at the appointed time ... and waited ... and waited. For an hour. He never showed.

When I got back home, I was pretty disappointed. Not in him, really, but in the fact that we didn't have our time together. I thought, this is what God does with us. He waits (boy, does He ever). He loves it when we show up, but He's not about to throw the relationship overboard when we don't. He just waits some more. What is time to Him? He is the very artist of patience.

My friend had simply forgotten. We rescheduled and had a great time together. (Plus, because he was feeling guilty, he insisted on paying! Nice!) If I had ripped him and ruined the friendship -- over a small matter like a blown breakfast -- the loss would have been MINE.

Doug Carroll

Steve Curtin said...

Great post. If I had more time, I'd leave a meaningful comment but I'm too busy. Gotta run...
Ha! Seriously, this post brings back many of the Public Victory lessons I learned from Covey's "7 Habits" training while working in the corporate world.
One of the metaphors that stuck with me was the comparison of superficial relationships with "throwing seeds on rock" with the expectation that something would grow.
We all know that seeds require fertile soil in order to take root and grow. In the same way, we must invest the time/energy ourselves in developing meaningful vs. superficial relationships with others so that, when we need support, counsel, encouragement, etc. ourselves, we have access to receptivity/reciprocity from others.
Thank you for your thoughtful post. Nice to "meet" you on Twitter.
Steve (@enthused)

Robin said...

Really enjoyed your blog on going deeper in relationships. Just recently had a brainstorm of inviting 6 women important to me to get together once a month for "deeper sharing" and honest communication.

Life is fast paced, and it's difficult to carve out time with others to truly listen and understand their world. One idea for our group name is GET REAL Group (after an actual therapy group at my husband's office). LOVE your concept and this one of taking risks with friends, family and spouses with the intent of sharing/listening from the heart.

One new friend in the group said "I just need a resting place" and think this group could be just that for me!

I will share your thoughtful words with my new group! Maybe the topic of our next get together!

Anonymous said...


Really good post. Great metaphor. Fun humor. And meaningful words about relationships, listening, and conversation and sharing.
And good writing.
Joan C. Webb