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Trading Places

To be like water over rocks, to move and produce naturally, to surrender to what makes you feel good.

Is there anything better than flow, that state of effortless productivity?

Don’t waste your time practicing an inherent weakness. The farthest you’ll ever get is mediocrity. Let other people excel in that thing.

Instead, embrace your strengths and outsource the rest. You don’t need to try harder, you need to try smarter.

Every man lives by exchanging. – Adam Smith

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Second Guessing

You’ve done all your homework. In fact, you probably over-prepared.

But you still have your doubts. So you practice again to rebuild confidence.

As much as you plan, it can still go all wrong. Just look at Peyton Manning and the Broncos last Sunday.

Sometimes over-preparation and more information can backlash. You’re so worried about remembering everything and being perfect in practice that nothing comes out during the execution.

Hard work doesn’t guarantee success, it just strengthens positive habits to better prepare you for the right opportunity. Don’t overthink it when it matters, just play the game as you best see it in your mind. You’ve already done all this before.

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Playing Past Perfection

The fear of never being as good again is supposed to be obtrusive. The resistance is telling you to keep your lasting image as one of the greatest so you can retire on top.

But the itch to play again is usually stronger than the public’s perception of your invincibility. Most athletes who return to sports or keep playing late into their careers still have the confidence but lose their innate ability. There are ways to circumvent this natural attrition. Michael Jordan improved his shooting game with the fadeaway. He also became a better team leader as he got older.

Wearing down is also true of artists. At some point, artists lose their creative energy and their work output suffers, as does their ability to think outside the box. All good work come to an end. It’s up to you to decide how perfectly indelible you want your lasting image to be.

You may lose your ability as time goes on but the sheer joy and appreciation of playing the game and making art persists.  

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Slow Drip

Instant coffee is about as satisfying as a Tweet; it can be done and consumed quickly but is far less enjoyable than the process of making the coffee itself.

Slow drip coffee requires more work and patience than instant coffee, including preparing hot water, grinding the coffee beans, cleaning the coffee pot, finding a fresh filter, and using a measuring tool (e.g. spoon) to scoop just the right amount.

The key to filtering coffee is taking a gradual, incremental pouring approach.  Rather than dumping all the water at once, you want to ensure each little ground gets soaked a few times upon each pour.

The magic of slow drip is watching the coffee brew and appreciating all the subtle components and steps of work you did to make it happen.  Yes, it’s easy to do, but it’s still harder than pushing a button or stirring granules in a cup.

Some things just feel better and taste better because of the extra effort. Slow drip coffee is one of them.

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Breaking and fixing mistakes

What’s the point of making a mistake if it doesn’t teach you a lesson?

The first time I ever shot a basketball was underhand. But then I learned proper form and practiced every day, inspired by Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

The first time I saw a billboard I got nervous because I couldn’t read it. But then I learned how read and write in school.

We never forget our first moments, when we practiced with little reference and raw skills but continued learning with anxious excitement.  Everything was new.  

But then it finally comes time to play the game.  We have to perform during competition to test our skills against others and see how we match up.  

And it doesn’t even stop there.  There are other variables like teamwork and leadership you also have to master if you want to win consistently.  

In other words, you can’t ever stop learning and strengthening your skills.  And you certainly can’t identify what those weaknesses are until you fail in practice and in the games.  

Experience tends to breed success which creates more passion, but losing questions your durability.  Do you really want this or do you only want it because you see positive results most of the time?  

There’s always room for improvement.  Failure is only temporary if you learn from it and avoid the same mistake again.  People may remember your slips but they are more likely to celebrate with you in your successes.  

Achievement is the end result of years of diligence.  

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If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.

Orwell