“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Here at the Profound Bartender, we have seen a lot of humanity. People and players from all walks of life, so many with the same problems over and over. Go ahead, have another drink.
Everything that you do while living your life can be understood by a two-part sequence. Technique leading into performance with the in-between of process.
How about something that you do every day? Take a bath or shower? You are applying technique of washing while doing the entire process of bathing. In the book Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, there is a scene where the father in his suit, vest and tie climbs into the bathtub to demonstrate the most efficient way to take a bath to his twelve children.
How about the classic: you have a horrible boss. Really, it is a problem for both of you. Learning the technique of diplomacy, politics and ambassadorship will let you shape the conversation. Practicing these techniques everyday on the mailman, your kids, at the store will prepare you to perform. Learning how to deal with your boss on your terms will make your life abundantly better. I’m sad to say, you probably won’t be at this bar mulling over the disaster of your boss.
There are techniques to be applied to parenting, shopping, dressing, praying, learning, driving, meditating and even tying your shoes.
What we can learn from basketball is that sometimes the technique blossoms for a short period of time and everything is easy. We know that there can be quick little bits that rise above and there can be bona-fide hot streaks.
The key to life is recognizing it when your technique blossoms and that is when you can be brilliant.
It is a paradox of sorts. A chef learns the technique of chopping, mincing and dicing onions so it doesn’t need to be thought about when performing. But there will be times when that technique serves up something brilliant.
This is true for every single facet of your life. You can no longer say “oh, that is just me” or accept your fate. Find something that is not perfect and make it perfect, you can do this. Even the crazy hard things like falling in love or finding “the one” or parenting or growing old; all of these things have techniques that you can practice until it is time to perform.
There is a technique to surviving a motor cycle crash! They say that there are two kinds of motorcyclists; those who have crashed and those who will crash. I mean, if you know that it is going to happen, you can prepare. In case you are curious, the answer is “rag doll” or going limp. It is the reason so many drunk drivers survive crashes. You can practice that so in the event of an accident, your body is ready to perform.
Practicing technique is not a question of practice makes perfect. Instead it is perfect practice makes perfect. Ballet teachers will ask their dancers to perform at the barre. It all leads up to performance, practicing something over and over by rote will not get you far.
Let us take the great story of Queen Elizabeth. She had foreigners to dinner who did not know about finger bowls. They picked up the bowls and drank the warm water. Now, the effort to chide them or laugh or embarrass them would be right on the tip of the tongue. Instead, she famously picked up the bowl too and drank. This was a moment of technique serving up brilliance. Years of practicing etiquette, diplomacy and leadership led to this insanely perfect performance.
How about the simple act of getting dressed? You do it every day. There are butlers and manservants who have elevated this to an art form from generations of butlers passing down tips and techniques. There is a best way to get dressed and you could do it too and it would free you to live a better life.
It is easy to leave your life up to fate’s winds, to wait for inspiration, to hope for good luck and even a knight in shining armor to save your day. All of those ideas are lies. You can control your life and really live. You can learn to enjoy food.
Nothing is linear. Let us take grocery shopping, a weekly mundane task. You do it all of the time. There is a technique of making a weekly menu, building a shopping list, cutting coupons and more. But, there are other ways too. A chef will decide at the store based on the things available and their freshness and quantity. Two different techniques for the same task.
The whole point is that you can live your life well and occasionally be brilliant.
Every single self-help book published is building on the basics and you don’t need that. There are no tricks to living life. If you want to do something, learn the technique and then perform. All too often in our lives, we are performing without having practiced. I’m telling you, we can do better than hope things will work out.
Think about it, some people even die well.
My downfall is typically this: I get up and have coffee and think about my day, then I take a shower and think about what will be breakfast, over breakfast I think about work, at work I think about my date this night, at my date I’m thinking about the end of the date. Living this way, I give myself no chance to be brilliant.
The human brain tends to drift when doing repeated tasks. Some even try multi-tasking which means doing two things really bad. Pulling ourselves into the moment of exercising technique while performing anything is the action of good living, getting the best and most out of life. This also defines a good life because gone are the ideas that a lot of money or the perfect man or a better location will solve our problems. We can’t lie to ourselves when it comes to changing our own lives.
Accepting your faults as something uniquely you is a bit of a mistake. You can solve that and make your life better. There is no reason to accept repeated failure in any facet of life.
Finally, it is not all work. There is a technique to relaxing. There is a technique to resting. There is a technique to eating chocolate. Practice, my friends!