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A balanced stance is a key ingredient for success in sports. It's hard to hit a curveball, make a hole-in-one, serve an ace or shoot a free throw if your body is not positioned correctly (legs set wide apart, head upright, back fairly straight, center of gravity evenly distributed, knees slightly bent—you get the picture).

According to, some variation of what is known is the "athletic stance" is common to most sports because it is the "most prepared position for the body to receive a force." It is, in fact, the "strongest position."

But as important as the right stance is in an athletic event, it's even more critical in life. When I talk about a person's life stance, I'm referring to his or her overall frame of reference. Stated differently, your life stance is the set of attitudes, assumptions and expectations that you hold about yourself, about other people and about life in general.

It's the way that you consistently look at people, events and circumstances; whether you tend to be trusting or suspicious, cheerful or gloomy, optimistic or pessimistic, friendly or reserved.

A person's life stance can be influenced by a number of factors: family background, personality type, educational opportunities (or lack thereof) and unexpected tragedies, to name a few.

We weren't given a choice about many of these things, but there is one aspect of our frame of reference over which we have total control, and that is the decision to take the high road on the journey through life.

What does it mean to take the high road? It's very simple. Don't keep score. Forgive others quickly. Learn to serve. Don't get even.

From that short description, I'm sure you can deduce that the high road isn't the busiest highway a person can take through life. It's an amazing road to travel, but it definitely is a road less traveled because it requires people to think and do things that are not natural or common.

The good news is that, when people deliberately choose to travel this road, they become instruments of grace to others and recipients of grace for themselves.

Let me give you an example. In the early 1980s, when I was just starting out as a writer, a friend of mine gave a very memorable presentation at a seminar. I liked his talk so much I got the tape and had it transcribed. A few years later, when I was working on a book called Be All You Can Be, I came across the transcription.

I couldn't remember where the material had originated, but since some of it fit perfectly with what I was writing, I decided to include it in my book. I didn't leave out the source on purpose, but I did leave it out.

After the book was published, this same friend and I were having dinner when he told me he had been shocked to find that I had used his illustration in my book without giving him credit for it.

Needless to say, I was heartsick over what I had done. "It was you!" I told him. "You're the guy who told that story. How can I make this right? How can I apologize?"

As I was hastily trying to come up with a way to fix my mistake, my friend stopped me and said, "John, don't worry about it. I know your heart. You're totally forgiven. We'll never bring the subject up again."

I will never, ever forget those words. They had such redeeming value to me. It was truly life changing to realize that I was the recipient of grace from someone who had chosen to take the high road. And from that point on, I determined that, whenever I was in a similar position—whenever I was right and the person I was facing was clearly wrong—I would win by taking the high road too.

You see, the greatest victory you'll ever have is not over another person. The greatest victory you'll ever have is over your natural inclination to win over that person. When you win but choose to walk away without declaring the win (giving someone a graceful exit or another chance instead), it is absolutely amazing what it will begin to do for you internally.

Again, taking the high road isn't always easy, and it doesn't always come naturally. But, like the balanced stance that lays the foundation for athletic success, it truly is the "strongest position" to take on the journey through life.

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's
free monthly e-newsletter: Leadership Wired
available at

Author Biography

John C. Maxwell
Web site: Injoy Group
John Maxwell grew up in the 1950s in the small Midwestern city of Circleville, Ohio. John's earliest childhood memory is of knowing that he would someday be a pastor. He professed faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13. At age 17, John began preparing for the ministry. He attended Circleville Bible College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1969. In June of that same year, he married his sweetheart, Margaret, and moved to tiny Hillham, Indiana, where he began his first pastorate.

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