I was throwing a frisbee with a teammate this summer. We were warming up on a big grassy field some Monday or Wednesday evening this summer before our summer league game. If you don’t know the sport of ultimate frisbee and you think of frisbees as something you casually throw at the beach or to a trained dog, then we have a misunderstanding. Ultimate is challenging and intense, more than most sports.
Among the top skills you need to play ultimate well is to throw a frisbee well. Throwing well involves choosing which throw, reading the wind, throwing it accurately, and a ton of other things. In a game, these things depend in your strength, your receiver’s speed, his or her defender’s speed, and other dynamic things you have to judge in a split second. Few other sports have such a challenging interaction with nature. Baseball and football don’t because baseballs and footballs are heavy enough that the wind barely affects them. The wind affects a frisbee’s flight significantly. A reasonable comparison might be surfers with waves or skiers with moguls.
Like those sports, there’s a beauty to the arc of a disc’s flight. It can curve left or right, fly high or low, drop fast or stay high, and show all sorts of other characteristics. The more you play, the more you see the subtleties.
So my teammate that I was tossing with threw a really nice throw. I can’t describe it since I can’t put your finger on exactly what made it a nice throw. It was a long throw that cut through the wind, which was choppy that day, not too much or too little, and came right to me so it was easy to catch.
When I saw how nice the throw was, I muttered to myself, “Nice throw!”
Then I thought, “Why would I keep that compliment to myself? If he threw it well, why would I not tell him so?” At first I automatically kept it to myself. After that second thought, I called out to him: “Nice throw!”
It made him feel good and took nothing from me. In fact, I gained.
I don’t know why I don’t compliment people more. I think to my credit that I’m not the only one who doesn’t compliment as generously as I could, but that’s no reason not to.
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