January 24th : Push for Deep Understanding
“From Rusticus…I learned to read carefully and not be satisfied with a rough understanding of the whole, and not to agree too quickly with those who have a lot to say about something.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 1.7.3
Read carefully, unless you want to risk becoming a pedant. As an athlete, how well do you understand your craft? As a coach, I feel it is easy to get caught in thinking in extremes : either massively deep knowledge in a very particular concept (e.g. a PhD) or extensive surface knowledge of all the details that exist. It should be obvious that neither will serve a coach well, and I think it’s important to realize that we can strive to be both simultaneously. Probably a combo of alternating between phases where one focuses on a specific idea, followed by a phase of more global viewpoints to help integrate the new knowledge as part of the whole coaching ability. Knowledge acquisition periodization, perhaps?
Always maintain healthy skepticism, especially from big talkers. It’s an easy trap to be impressed by the amount somebody says about a subject, but it might also mean they have little to no understanding of everything that exists beyond that subject (like this). Always consider context when taking in new information.
January 25th : The Only Prize
“…by having some self-respect for your own mind and prizing it, you will please yourself and be in better harmony with your fellow human beings, and more in tune with the gods – praising everything they have set in order and allotted you.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.112.2b-4a
I chose this quote because it passes the message far more poetically, but it’s clearer in the examples that come afterwards, of many very rich men with very modest lifestyles.
It’s not because these men are cheap. It’s because the things that matter to them are cheap. (…) The more things we desire and the more we have to do to earn or attain those achievements, the less we actually enjoy our lives – and the less free we are. – The Daily Stoic
I know I referred to it already previously, but I think Mark Manson’s article fits far more in this context.
Again, winning an Olympic gold medal is “expensive”, in that it will cost much, not only in money, but also in time and effort. Focusing on self-improvement, however, is “cheap”, because there are so many different avenues to accomplish this. It’s very possible that the medal might even come as a fun side effect of this focus shift.