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The Game Is Bigger than the Play

Photo by Max Winkler on Unsplash

In every basketball game, the winning team experiences:

  • Missed shots
  • Bad fouls
  • Lapses on defense
  • Turnovers on offense
  • Objectionable calls made against their team by the referee
  • Negative reactions from the crowd
  • Heated disagreements or frustrating moments of miscommunication between teammates

The moral: you don’t need every single play to go your way in order to control the tempo, execute your strategy, weather the storms, adapt to the challenges of the moment, and dial it in when it matters most.

To play the game, you have to remember that the game is bigger than the play.

Learning Is the Ultimate Motivational Tool

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Most people feel unmotivated not because they lack good pep talks, but because they lack good perspective.

The key to inspiration is better information.

When you understand how things work, you’re less vulnerable to self-defeating assumptions about how those things won’t work for you.

Instead of forcing yourself to feel successful and productive, try to understand something new. Seek out a different vantage point.

When you can think clearly, critically, and creatively about things, your feelings and actions will follow.

Is That Woo Woo You’re Using?

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I have a term I’d like to coin: “The fear of woo-wooing out.”

Should I call this FOWO?

Anyway, here’s the idea: the fear of woo-wooing out is when you hesitate to do things that are fun, fulfilling, or useful to you because your friends might think you’re being too weird, too new-agey, or too unscientific. No one wants to be accused of practicing “woo woo.”

Example: Let’s say you like to practice guided imagery meditations, or creative visualization exercises, or positive affirmations because they put you in a space where you feel more focused and motivated, BUT…you’re not sure if the scientific community has reached a consensus about how those activities affect human performance.

Are you being delusional? Are you engaging in wishful thinking? Is this merely the placebo effect at work?

I’m no Neil deGrasse Tyson, but here’s my two cents:

It’s not “woo woo” if it actually works for you.

Your personal experience is a lab where ideas can be put to the test.

Experimenting with ideas and sticking with what proves useful is not being woo woo. That’s being a pragmatic individual who understands the relative and real value of subjective experience.

If something consistently delivers the outcomes and advantages you want, you don’t need the permission of your local physics professor to do it.

As long as you don’t preach your personal strategies as some kind of universal philosophy that works for all people in all conditions, you’re entirely free to do what works for you. As long as you don’t equate “this works for me” with ” this is objectively true and everyone else should do it too, ” you’re safe from woo woo.

It doesn’t matter if your tools and techniques are quirky. What matters is your willingness to measure them by the results they generate in your own life.

Follow Your Drum

Photo by Matthijs Smit on Unsplash

Don’t let it grieve you, don’t let it peeve you
If the guy in front of you marches off and he leaves you
Don’t get blue, kid, you ain’t stupid
You’re just marchin’ to the rhythm of a different drum, son
-John D Loudermilk, Follow your Drum

Just as we all have a unique path, we all have a unique pulse: a native rhythm and cadence within which we do our best work.

Productivity is like playing an instrument: you can’t just play hard. You also have to play on beat.

If you’re playing the right tune to the wrong rhythm, the sounds you generate will be indistinguishable from noise. Good music isn’t just about the correct notes. It’s about having an intuitive sense for when you should take a pause, when you should slow down, when you should speed up, and so on.

This is what Duke Ellington was getting at when he wrote, “It don’t mean a thing. If it ain’t got that swing.”

You can be headed in the right direction, but still feel off if your stride is dictated by someone else’s tempo.

You’ll always be in the weeds as long as you’re orientating your creative process around someone else’s speed.

Don’t just stay in your lane. Stay in your groove.

Don’t just follow your dreams. Follow your drum.

The only way to win this race is to take the time to dictate your own pace.

Today Isn’t a Bad Day for Change

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Today I’m supposed to tell you that the dates on a calendar don’t matter.

I’m supposed to tell you that if you were really serious about change, you’d already be doing the things you know you should be doing and you wouldn’t be waiting on the permission of a new year.

I’m supposed to tell you that I’m too cool or too consistently productive to need new year resolutions.

I’m supposed to remind you that most resolutions fail.

I’m not going to do any of those things.

If you can find an excuse for smiling again, hoping again, and believing in yourself again, why not?

Now is as good of a time as any other day you could choose.

Happy new year and happy any other day you want to use as inspiration for celebrating the grander possibilities of life.

And if you’re one of those people who just can’t get over the fact that most resolutions will fail, you should read James Walpole’s excellent post on why it’s quite rational to CELEBRATE THE FLEETING GOODNESS OF DOOMED NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS.

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