Can you do everything you think you can?

Yes, you can.  But in the long-term.  The present is a completely different story.  If you’re a basketball player, maybe you think you can dribble through, around, or under five NBA players.  I’m not saying you can’t do that (only a handful of NBA players can even do that), but I’m saying that you most likely can’t do that at this very moment.  With years, maybe decades, of practice, dedication, perseverance, you may be able to accomplish it, but in the meantime, focus on what you can do.  Understand what you can do and how you can best help your team.

Granted, Dwight Howard is a great player and he most likely got fouled on this play, understand that you probably will not make this shot.

Recently, I read an article (The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is) which talks about the difference between known unknowns and unknown unknowns.  Known unknowns are things that you are aware of that you don’t know.  For example, I know that I don’t know that capital of Iceland and I know that I don’t know how to fix the engine in my car.  This information, or recognition of lack of knowledge/ability, could be crucial.  If my car breaks down and I think I can fix it (I don’t know that I can’t), I could get lucky or I could make it worse.  Unknown unknowns have the capability to be severely detrimental.  If somebody asks you a question and give an answer in which you truly believe is correct, but isn’t, depending on the situation, that person could be in trouble.

So how can you use this idea of unknown unknowns to help you succeed athletically? First of all, I want to make it clear that you can do anything you want to.  But I want to follow up with the fact that you should never lose sight of your limits.  How can you improve if your always focusing on your limitations?  Easy.

Here’s an example: Your goal is to hit two home runs in every game.  In the first game of the season, you try your hardest to put the ball over the fence.  You swing out of your shoes, pull your head, and eventually end up striking out four times.  Did that help your team at all? No.  After the game, you realize your mistake.  You have experienced great success in hitting for average (which is not to say you can’t be a power hitter).  If you truly want to achieve your goal, work on it in practice, in the weight room, etc.  Don’t sacrifice helping your team to achieve a personal goal.  When your team needs you, do what you do best and help your team.

  Your swing can end up looking like this if you lose sight of your limitations.

I’m nearing the end of this conversation because I’m sure you’re getting the jest of it, but I want to talk about Kobe Bryant for a second.  While I’m not a fan of Kobe’s, I have so much respect for him.   He has proven over and over again that he can shoot over three defenders, falling out of bounds, and still sink the winning shot.  Of course he misses sometimes, but it is a known known that he can pull out a victory for his team.  A high school player with the same mentality as Kobe may be fighting some unknown unknowns.  If he truly believes he can do the same thing as Kobe without having taken the millions of shots that Kobe has taken, he could cost his team a victory.  There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but that’s a conversation for another day.

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One response to “Can you do everything you think you can?

  1. Yes, the concept of anosognosia and sports fall perfectly in line with each other. The idea of being aware of what one is not particularly skilled at and working at it seperates regular players from superstars. Similarly, players like Kevin Durant and Lebron James continually try to better themselves by working on different aspects of their game. For example, they both went to Hakeem down in Houston to work on their post game. In addition, the best way to beat your enemy is to think about how they would beat you. However, not too many people do that in life, and in sports it would be super beneficial to not only players but teams. Yesterday I went to the Thunder vs. Clipper game and I noticed the Thunder tried to slow the game down due to how this season the Clippers are especially a fast paced team. The Thunder tried to bring the game to a half court setting to reduce the amount of lobs and fast breaks CP3 and his team would capitalize on. This idea of being more self-aware and receiving feedback should be implemented more in peoples’ lives.

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