I’ve developed this habit of watching NBA games to usher me to sleep on a nightly basis. The games are on late to very at night
This fits perfectly with my adult life pattern of a sleep schedule which is an ongoing car crash (and not just any car crash; we’re talking multi car pile up culminating in oil tanker explosion). In fact if starting at aged 18 I’d gone to bed 2 hours earlier every single night I’m pretty sure the extra time, energy and quality of life would have produced a best selling novel and the cure for a couple of forms of cancer…but hey …whaddayagonnado
I was jolted more fully awake by a former NBA coach who was commentating on a really good team and used the words, ‘what people don’t realize is that the magic is in the work’.
He went onto explain that viewers see spectacular dunks, 3 point rainbow shots dropping in and flawless no-look passing and are in awe. But really they should be in awe of the work it takes to get to those things in a competitive match.
Tattoo this on your DNA (which is totally scientifically possible – google have an app for it) ‘the magic is in the work’
A popular cod interview question is ‘if you could go back and talk to your 18 year old self what would advice would you give them?’ (it’s right up there as my favourite cod interview question alongside ‘who would you most like to punch in the face?’ … thanks for asking – tough call – it keeps flip flopping between George Osborne, John Terry and Cheryl Fernanzdez-Cole-Tweedy-Aloud-Vermicelli)
If I had that opportunity I’d tell my 18 year old self 3 important things that would guide him to success. 1) Stop being upset over the break up with Michaela Ransom, she wasn’t right for you, you’ll end up with better and you need to learn that a great rack isn’t everything – it’s at most 40% of what’s important in a life partner. 2) Stop following football, it will bring you pain and anxiety and even when it doesn’t you’ll be worried about when the pain and anxiety will start again and 3) the magic is in the work.
My problem when I was young is that I was a slacker. I slacked off. In fact that’s probably an understatement as most of the time I wasn’t ever ‘on’ so think less intermittent productivity and more cobwebs blowing across my life.
I blame the system. I figured out at a very young age that in school if I did well in tests / exams I could pretty much do nothing the rest of the time. I learned that the ‘magic’ was in cramming like crazy for a few days before an exam and then mastering the art of regurgitating that knowledge under pressure. It’s a system that teaches you every wrong lesson for life.
Because the magic is in the work. The way you achieve excellence in anything is by putting in the reps. When you see a boxer win a world title with one knock out punch you don’t see the endless early mornings and road runs, the hours in the gym, the time away from family and friends and the sacrifice of normal life. You see the magic in the moment but really the magic is in the work.
Poker constantly gives players the feeling that it’s an easy game because the rules are so quick to learn and because anyone can have success in one session or tournament. However getting good requires work and to reach the top level it takes a lot of work. Improvement is possible for everyone but unless you’re analyzing hands, experimenting, soaking up coaching, sharing knowledge with players better than you, analyzing more hands and on and on you won’t reach the top level or have sustained success.
The best coach I ever had used to constantly say ‘work hard – play better’. If I ever complained about how I was running or my results it was always the same ‘work hard – play better’. His lifetime cash game winnings are in the millions and he loves working on his game… what an odd coincidence.
Next time you bump into a professional player that’s had success over time ask him how many hours he puts into improving his game, especially when he was coming up it won’t take you long to prove to yourself that there’s no mystery to who gets to the top in this game. Recently crowned world champ Martin Jacobsen said he studied for 500 hours before the final table running countless simulations. 9th place finisher Mark Newhouse didn’t play or study a hand before the final. Look at that… coincidences all over the shop!
The problem with all this is no one likes hard work. And quite right too – hard work sucks. The trick is what I’m calling ‘work’ isn’t work for people who end up excelling – it’s a joy. We work hard and well when we’re passionate about what we’re doing. The answer to becoming excellent at anything is to love the process NOT the outcome. If you play poker and want to succeed at it and be the person whose always behind the big stack of chips or big pile of cash you have to love pouring over hands you’ve played to find better lines and use them next time. You have to love the day-to-day playing, analyzing and learning that makes a poker player great.
Oh and one last thing; Michaela you were the bloody definition of hard work. If you’re reading this I was totally about to dump you before you dumped me and the only reason I didn’t is that I actually care about other people’s feelings. Anyway thanks THANKS you did me a hell of a favour and I’ve never looked back, I can barely remember your name or the exact words you used when you crushed my soul …hardly at all and almost never when I’m alone at night. And where are you now? You’re nowhere (probably) and here I am with my own column with my picture on it and everything. You missed your ticket on the train to easy street my friend and it’s left the station without you on it so; suffer.