My son is fascinated with basketball, so we paused on our walk at the school nearby to see some kids shooting hoops. They each had a ball and they were terrible.
Every single shot was out of their skill level. They were trying to shoot from far away and do tricky dribbling and ball handling and one-handed shots. I was counting. They got one out of 15 shots in the basket. They were going for heroic shots and missing almost every one.
I have a very performance-based mindset, so to me this was silly. To me, it looked like they were either trying to be cool, or trying to get better at basketball. To me, they chose the wrong path to do either. I could be wrong. Maybe they liked flinging the ball at the hoop and watching to see if they’re lucky. Maybe they had some other drive.
It made be contemplate three things.
It’s easier to fail at the ridiculous than practice the practical
If we practice and incrementally improve what we’re doing with a high rate of success, we will progress to the heroic level we want. We will practice succeeding, we will be able to analyze the work that we’re doing and improve on it based on straightforward measurements.
This is rough in the experience because we are not escaping to a fantasy – we’re staying present and aware that we are not there yet (for possibly a long time).
As I’m building my business, I constantly want to think of what it can be. I constantly want to look at parts that don’t matter, but are exciting. I want to escape to an under-the-leg three point shot instead of shooting layups for a week.
We’re affected by our peers
Even without explicit peer pressure, we are gonna do what they do. We can pick our peers, and also state our intentions to our peers so that together we work for improvement. If one kid wanted to work on easy shots to improve his accuracy, he might say “let’s see how many layups we can get in a row.” If the other kids wanted to improve their skills, or they see the game in it, they might want to jump on this opportunity too.
An example of this in entertainment is we so often focus on the wrong things when we’re around our peers. A show host might say to another show host “You look so good up there. You’re so funny” instead of “You changed the room. You took them to another level with that second thing you said!” It’s a simple change, but it reframes what we’re trying to do completely.
Success is only determined by one’s self
I don’t know what these boys were trying to do on the court. I could be totally wrong. I chuckled at them thinking I knew, but maybe they were hoping to throw balls randomly and watch to see how lucky they would get. Maybe they were succeeding.
People talk about multi-millionaires who are unhappy. They are not meeting their goals, even though some outside people might think that the goal is money. We don’t know whether other people are succeeding, and we have the opportunity to reframe our own success to be succeeding right now!