Coach Mike Preston once told me that I’ll never be as good as I can be, until I take it upon myself to put in the wok on my own. Mike Preston was my prep school basketball coach, who also accompanied me to my first college, as an Assistant Coach.
In college, I had to work on my jump shot accuracy and consistency. Over the years, a player will learn certain drills and believe in them blindly, as if that’s all a player can do to improve on those areas of their basketball game. That was me. I thought I was hard working and motivated–and I may have been compared to those closest to me, but I needed to do more. Bear in mind that there is always someone somewhere working. Getting better when you aren’t.
Working with this coach was an exercise in expanding my mind and approach to what it was to master a skill and become great. “It” has to come from within. A person will only be as good as they can be when they start making themselves take those 200 extra shots; or going to run; or hitting the library or writing without being told by an authority figure. It creates ability or skill, and confidence in yourself.
The greatest theories or innovations in art, philosophy, sports, and the like are not made or formed in a classroom or during a team regulated practice for the most part. The real discoveries of self-ability are found when doing one’s own experiments–although maybe based on classroom teachings, furthering the groundwork laid by individuals in a person’s environment.
I got exponentially better at basketball when I decided that I didn’t need a coach to put me through a workout. I found a way to challenge myself. As this relates to the rest of the world, I know that self-starters or those who go above and beyond the call of duty are those improving at the greatest rate of change.
Improvement is a core feature of living, in my estimation, such as adaptability is essential to survival. You can reference Darwin and other theorists of evolution if you feel otherwise.
I guess the teaching my parents gave me for being accountable or responsible for my own actions was driven home by a basketball coach, by seeing it applied in a more discrete venue. My room was never as clean as the time I wanted it clean. The same way my jump shot was never as accurate until I took it upon myself to never want to miss, or think every shot was going in the basket.
I found new ways to perfect shooting; or made new moves to help me get by a defender; or imagined making shots with a defender guarding me. When I was using my imagination the results were greater. I believe that is applicable to all things.
Being mindful that rules and laws set a baseline, the imagination in conjunction with hard work is here to expand that baseline; thus giving us more. Sports are a microcosm of life in general, but certainly as sports pertain to improvement.