/ @ade3
August 19, 2017

Blind Spots, Keyholes, and Failing in Slow Motion

"Just stop doing it wrong."

One of the principles I live by is a belief that the more you look, the more you see. It's a simple mantra but it contains the meaning of life. Or at least I think it does. I am probably wrong.

This week I was studying the user experience of an athlete performance app called Technique. The app asks you to create videos of yourself attempting something that you want to improve. You can crop the clip, slow down the speed, and zoom in on the exact moment when the weaknesses in your game are in focus. Then you submit it to the community to solicit feedback. "What am I doing wrong?"

Does that strike you as odd? Does the mob really need any more sources of fail videos? Who volunteers to let strangers watch them fail in slow motion?

Moreover, If you know the exact moment when your game fell apart, if you can see it right in front of you, what can somebody else tell you that you don't already know? You know that you are slicing the ball, all the video does is confirm that fact. The solution is simple, just stop doing it wrong.

Similarly, I can put a video of myself shooting a 3-pointer next to a video of Steph Curry. I can match it up frame by frame to analyze the differences. Sure, I am going to notice differences but what does that tell me? I already know I am not the greatest shooter of all time. The path to improvement is obvious, just do it the way Steph does.

But as I watched more of the amateur videos in the app I realized that asking "what am I doing wrong" isn't as odd as it sounds. I saw a golfer who was clearly doing something wrong. And yet, if this guy asked me how to fix his problem, there was nothing I could tell him that would improve his game. I could watch that video fifty times and not see the cause of his failure. I can see the flaws but the solution is invisible to me. It takes a coach, someone who has mastered this skill to reveal the path to success hidden in plain sight.

And this gets to the heart of improvement. Blind spots are inevitable. You will hit this wall if you stick with anything long enough. You will get promoted to your level of incompetence. You will reach a moment when...

You know you are doing it wrong but you can't see what you are doing wrong.

What then?

You give up. You tell yourself "maybe I'm just not management material."

Or you muster the courage to review the video of yourself failing in slow motion. It starts with the assumption that I am probably wrong followed by an eagerness to discover what you aren't seeing. It isn't about personal failure, it's a belief that there is something deeper here, something elusive. You scrutinize all available footage looking for clues.

If we are lucky we will have a coach, a mentor who sees the world in slow motion and is patient enough to review your game tape frame by frame. Someone who can guides us through the invisible keyholes that leave so many amateurs stranded in mediocrity. As the invisible becomes visible it will be excruciating to watch as the ugliness of your form is revealed in front of you. The more you look, the more you see. But with each turn of the flywheel your skills improve. Your swing gets smoother, your stride more efficient, and your vision clearer. There is great joy in knowing that you are on a journey to understanding that will never end. Every answer leads to more questions. Every skill can be refined infinitely.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoy watching failure in slow motion, follow me because I write stories like this every Saturday. Stay creative.

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