I think a lot of people will tell you that the older they get, the more they realize they don’t know as much as they thought. As in many cases, when we are in our late teens and on into our twenties, we think we have things figured out and have many of the answers to life’s big questions.
As life goes on and you continue to age through some wins and some losses, you slowly learn that you don’t have all the answers. Whenever it is that this shift in mentality occurs, you will start to see the world differently from that point forward. In an ideal scenario, we learn this sooner rather than later, and view the world from this more humble perspective.
I know that as I started out in the world, I was a scared kid from a small town, and it took a long time to gain some confidence in my place among the rest. As I started playing racquetball competitively, I looked up to the accomplished players, thinking that the unique styles of play and different approaches to the game would all work and take you to the top level. As I began to look closer, I realized that there were “levels to the game”, and that one person who did certain things better than everyone else would consistently win. My first impression was incorrect; just because someone had reached a higher overall level of play than I had, I thought mirroring what they did would take me farther up the food chain. While this is true to a degree, the ultimate goal for me was to be the best player I could be, and this is where the “levels” concept really plays in. More on how this parallels life in just a moment…
There were players that had very unorthodox styles that were difficult to play against if you were not in their same division of play. Their style worked against a certain number of players; those with limited skills and/or understanding of the game. They struggled against the players that were considered at the same level of play, and after being around the game and gaining a better understanding of this, it became clear that emulating just anyone was a limiting approach. I had the good fortune of watching a player, who was the best in AZ during my time climbing up, that had a well rounded style of play. He didn’t overpower everyone like some players tried to, and he wasn’t diving all of the time with amazing athletic prowess. But he did almost all facets of the game at a very high level, and rounded it out with unflappable mental toughness. Now THAT is someone to emulate.
As I progressed towards my own peak performance levels, I figured out how to do everything better and more efficiently. The game slowed down for me, I would see things unfolding before they actually happened.
Later in my time as a coach, I would routinely “predict” correctly what would happen to the amazement of my players. I would cheer aloud before everyone else watching the same match. It was clear that I had learned and elevated my understanding of the game, and this allowed me to see things differently than most who also played the same game.
Now I am working hard to achieve this same level of understanding for life in general. There are some who do it, and lots and lots who do not; people who have achieved the same level of understanding in business or other segments of life as I did in the game of racquetball. It appears to me that people such as Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Scott Adams just to name a few, have achieved this deeper level of knowledge, and I do my best to learn from them just as I did watching racquetball as a teen. I can only imagine how much easier life would be if (when) I achieve the level of understanding in life that I did as a racquetball player. Given how much wider and deeper the scope of life is, obviously it will take a long time to achieve this depth of knowledge, but I can’t think of a better thing to dedicate my life to. I promise to share as much as I can along the way.
I will stick with the game show theme as an analogy of life: Just as the questions in Double Jeopardy are more difficult than in the first round, and the questions get more difficult as the dollar values increase, so is life. Many people never make it out of the intro level of knowledge and understanding. Some work hard to learn and accrue knowledge as they go, and they might answer a few questions in the $1000 range of the initial Jeopardy round. A few will see the Double Jeopardy round, and on occasion there are a few who get all the way to Final Jeopardy and answer that question correctly. Again, as an analogy, this is one way to illustrate the levels to the game.
Life is a game too, one of rules and parameters, some of which will be changing as you go. Some rules will feel like they apply only to you, others will feel like the opposite. The trick is to adjust when needed, and accrue as much knowledge as possible so that you can learn to see things just a little sooner than others. If you hit a very high level of understanding, you will recognize things and start cheering before they happen, just like I do coaching racquetball.
So the takeaway is this: Look deeper into everything, and try to learn as much as possible. In a world where social media and click bait headlines, completely biased news coverage, and a rise in tribalism that we have not seen in a long time, you will be doing not only yourself, but the world, a huge favor. Wisdom goes a long way towards happiness. Don’t fall for the window dressing and the outward displays of wealth and the appearance of success. Lots of people are living way beyond their means and will soon pay the consequences for this. Think before you act, or worse yet –> react. Avoiding the obvious pitfalls that life throws at you, such as career choices, handling personal finances, relationship choices, etc., will help get you to the next level up. This is already a huge separation from the masses, but there is plenty of room for improvement left to be had.
I wish you luck in your endeavors.