Tag Archives: self-analysis

The Plank in My Eye

I think I’m like many people who can be a total ace at passing out advice that I then do a less-than-ideal job of following for myself.  I don’t think there is anything remarkable about that in myself or in others – it’s just far easier to cast the penetrating light of truth upon a situation removed from myself than it is to see that same case in me.

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Case in point.  This past season of coaching baseball, one of the things we implored of our kids was to be aggressive and not fear the consequences that would follow.  If they were going all out and made a mistake in the process, ehh… that’s fine.  More often than not, their aggressive on the baseball diamond would be rewarded with something good than a mistake.  Plus, we kept reminding them… this is baseball.  A game.  Something to have fun with and not something with the future of mankind perilously hanging in the balance.  I think we made a bit of progress on this with a lot of the boys and I hope it sticks with them.  If there is one HUGE thing I’ve noticed in youth sports, it’s that the kids who are either the most aggressive or the least concerned about making mistakes are the ones who do best (and also seem to have the most fun).

And God forbid it all be it about fun.  I know… that’s a pretty nutty thing to say about youth sports.  We’re supposed to be prepping every little Johnny and Jane to be Olympic-calibre athletes from the time they are 6 right? (I will now seek to turn down my sarcasm a shade).

Getting back to the notion of seeing the speck in your brother’s eye while missing the plank in your own.  Yeah… that’s right… I just went Biblical.

A few weeks back I was playing a game in my basketball league and I was absolutely awful.  I mean… just… wow… I was really bad.  My time on the court seemed to serve little purpose outside spelling a teammate who needed to rest for a bit.  I was tentative and second-guessing and awkward.  It was probably one of the worst basketball experiences I’ve had in my life, outside of some bad Nerf hoop experiences when super young.  You know those where you are just starting to learn to play, but have an older brother who just swats away every shot you put up with that puffy orange ball?  So yeah, besides that, my worst outing ever.

Then it hit me loud and clear and with no small amount of force: I was exactly like one of the 10 to 12 year olds I had just finished coaching who didn’t seem to get out of his shell and just be aggressive.  Boom – head shot.  I sat there as a coach and felt I was so wise with all my perspective on the value of being aggressive and how you not only play better, but have more fun… and yet I never saw it in myself.

I played again last night, freshly self-chastised for coaching one way and playing another, and guess what?  I played much better, was much more aggressive, had a blast and smiled throughout a lot of the game (even at some of the awful calls made by our fine officials).  Heck, we won too.

The lesson in all of this for me is simple and direct: If I have an insight for someone else… whether while coaching or with someone coming to me for advice… I need to immediately take an opportunity to then look at myself in that same vein because chances are, I will need it as well to some extent or another.  I hope to make this a habit and given the fact that my very job involves me giving guidance to people on a daily basis, I think I can get some mojo going on this point.

It’s time to get that plank out of my own eye and see things a little bit more clearly… at least when looking at myself.

Wait… Things Went RIGHT?

As often seems to be the case, the good people over at Lifehacker have provided inspirational fodder for this humble blog of mine, this time in the form of a referral to a blog post over at Psychology Today. It’s not a long post, but hey… who said they had to be long to be good? No seriously, who said that? Because Lord knows my posts tend to ramble on endlessly! HA!

*ahem* Anyway, onwards and upwards. The blog post looks into something that is simple, but interesting: While most people (myself most definitely included) seem to take an inordinate amount of angst-filled time hashing out why something went wrong, very few people will do the same about why something went right. If you have to give a PowerPoint presentation to the VP of your department and you just flop about like a fish on the dock, 999 people out of 1,000 will wail, gnash their teeth and spend endless hours rethinking why they blew it, why they should have done better, where they should be looking for their next job, etc. It’s an ugly little cycle, my friends, as I am sure anyone reading these words well knows. We’ve all been there. Less than good times.

But what about when it goes well? In thinking of myself, it seems pretty plain as to why I don’t think much about why it went well… I’m just too stoked to give it much thought. Let’s take lifting as an example. Suppose I just absolutely crushed a set of military presses for a personal record. Just absolutely smoked them. What would be my reaction shortly thereafter? Probably a battle cry followed by a little victory dance. No seriously… that’s what I do. I kid you not. There is also then a decent chance of following it up with a slightly larger-than-average meal to celebrate.

What’s missing from all of that? Not even a moment’s reflection as to what got me to that good spot. Don’t mistake me – the spontaneous moment of jubilation I engage in after the accomplishment is a great thing. Hell, I do this lifting thing because I love it, not out of some horrible sense of obligation. Ugh – how awful that would be. However, I am also missing out on that little sliver of analysis that might make those moments come along more regularly going forward. So what should I consider shortly after I bust out my funky dance moves?

Did I get good sleep the night before? What did I eat today? Was I stressed? Relaxed? How did I prep for the lift? Was I focused? Did I take enough time to warm-up? What has my lifting program been looking like up to that point? Had I incorporated any different exercises or rep schemes that might have borne fruit for me?

All those things should be considered in some way, shape or form. And guess what’s most remarkable about that list of questions above? Go ahead… give it a moment… I don’t mind… ready? It’s easy.

Not a damn thing is remarkable. Nothing. El zippo.

It’s all a matter of mindfulness to pause and consider all these good things. Also, it’s not as if the analysis would be unpleasant because you are focusing on why a good thing happened. I might not be a fancified PhD in psychology and such, but I am pretty confident that thinking over a good thing is a nice experience… but I’m kooky like that.

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So celebrate and drink deep the cup of victory. You earned it and there are few moments as sweet as those. But even just a brief glimpse inward may be just the thing to keep those good times returning again and again and again… and wouldn’t that be a nice little treat?