The Wisdom in a Sixteen Pound Bowling Ball

My dad (a 1950’s version of a what we now call a motivational speaker) handed me the lightest bowling ball in the bowling alley – a whopping 9 pounder.  I was 8 years old and it was my very first bowling experience so I was, as they say in the south, “rarin’ to go!”  But when I took the ball, my first comment (okay, complaint) was, “Daddy, this is too heavy!  I can’t hold this!”

Without hesitation, he took the ball back from me, picked up his 16 pound ball and handed IT to me.  “Then try this one.”

I almost dropped it on the floor.  I’m sure I acted like a, well….8 year old.  He calmly told me to just carry it to the other side of the bowling alley (that looked like a mile away to me) and then bring it back.  So, whining and crying the whole way, I did what he asked.  When I returned, he took back his ball and handed me another one.

I can remember telling him “Oh this one is GOOD!  I like this one!  It’s not too heavy at all!”

Do I even need to tell you that he had given me back the original 9 pound ball?  Probably not.

This is a lesson that has stuck with me for {lots of} years.  What this taught me was, don’t run away from the BIG tasks or the HUGE problems or the ENORMOUS challenges in life!  Tackle them, head on!  Carry them around like a 16 pound bowling ball so that when all those other annoying, unexpected problems come along in life – the ones that MANY people would whine and complain about – YOU will look at those and go, “That’s a 9 pounder! I can do THAT in my sleep!”

I recently booked a job speaking for a group of about 6,000 people.  And there would have been a time when that would have intimidated the heck out of me.  BUT – a few years back I spoke for a group of 17,000!!!  It was for the Future Farmers of America’s annual conference and, make no mistake about it, I almost threw up before I walked out on that enormous stage!  But I did it! I carried that 16 pound ball and discovered that it didn’t kill me – it only helped me build a muscle.  So this presentation to 6,000?  I’m good.

Gotta run.  I have an unexplained urge to go bowling.

From Motivational Speaker Linda Larsen, looking for wisdom in the strangest of places.


Motivational Speaker Linda Larsen, CSP has been described by meeting planners and audiences as "hysterically funny," and "riveting." Known for her ability to connect on an authentic and emotional level with audiences, her spontaneous sense of humor, and her engaging and powerful stories, Linda is passionate about sharing ideas to help people live their finest, best, and most productive lives. Her riveting and true story of being kidnapped and held hostage at gunpoint by an escaped convict, and the strategies she used to escape, will give people the tools THEY need to rise above any of life's toughest challenges, to communicate more effectively with THEIR difficult person, and to find creative solutions to THEIR problems. To book motivational speaker, Linda Larsen: 941-927-4700

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  1. I love this story Linda! And it will stick with me for a long time. It’s a great analogy about facing the bigger fear, and then all the other fears are now not so bad. Any audience is lucky to have you as a motivational speaker – whether it’s 17,000 or 10.

  2. Linda,

    Your story reminds me of boys club football. I had a couple of coaches who worked us so hard in practice that the games were easy. Considering your FFA experience – it’s amazing how our view of what is difficult or impossible can be changed by the successes we experience.

  3. Thanks Linda… timing is everything… I guess I read your blog exactly when I needed to. I’ve got to go bowling.

  4. Linda, You’ll never end up in the gutter while rolling out this incredible advice! You are one sporty motivational speaker, and those 6,000 attendees will love you, your message and your stories.

  5. Linda – your dad sounds awesome! What a great lesson! Thanks for sharing it – and by the way WII Bowling balls only weigh about 5 oz!!! :)

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