The Perfect Shot

I’m not very good at pool. I jump shots. I scratch way more than necessary. I can go ten shots without sinking a ball. While I win more than I lose against people who don’t play regularly, I still lose a lot.

But I can visualize the perfect shot.

Pool isn’t a very complicated game – you can think four or five moves ahead without having to worry too much about what the other player is doing. The balls work like high school trigonometry on a felt table. If you line your shot up right and use the right amount of force, nothing unexpected will happen. It will be a perfect shot.

For me, learning has a lot to do with knowing what the perfect shot is. I look at the table until I can see it. I see the result of the perfect shot. Where is the cue ball? Which balls moved? Where’s the next shot? I try as hard as I can to duplicate that shot, and when the dust settles it’s easy to figure out what went wrong.

In meditation, there’s a concept called “The Golden Man,” which I was taught for kung fu. Before every training session I was asked to meditate for five minutes on my ideal self as a fighter. How fast was I? How strong? How accurate? How hard could I struggle against being tired, hurt, or scared? I had to picture myself being that man with a golden glow.

The difference between this and pool is that some things are beyond my control. I cannot knock a heavy bag back a meter with a jab. I cannot move so fast that my opponent’s attacks hit only air. I cannot close my eyes and catch a punch before it lands.

But what’s important is the biggest similarity: the perfect shot in pool and the golden man in kung fu both pull me towards a level of mastery that I can qualify. Learning is the process of moving from idiocy to perfection – even if you’ll never be perfect. So it makes sense to know what that is.

What’s one skill you’re learning? Do you know what your perfect shot looks like?

2 thoughts on “The Perfect Shot”

  1. Interestingly, and against self-sabotaging attempts to stop it from happening, you’re YOU-ness is working for me.

    I’ve had this entrepreneur idea for a few years now, but, like you, I feel that I am in no way qualified to start my own business, even if it is closely related to the field I have my diploma in.

    You’re starting to make me believe I am capable – and even though my “perfect shot” involves me being a millionaire due to chance number picks in LottoMax, it also is me being accomplished, feeling what I’m offering is necessary and useful for people and will the CEO of business that lets me travel all around the world.

    Funnily enough one of my main concerns right now is getting a business suit! Not finding the money to pay the manufacturers to make an item I’ve yet to complete realizing, or getting a business license, or employees, or working out of a two bedroom apt. It’s getting a business suit so that I can look presentable and “grown up” and respectable to people who paid 4 times as much as I did to get a degree in a major that, it turns out, isn’t really all that useful or necessary!!

    Mr. Fawkes, damn you and your logic!

    You are always apt at pointing out the obvious answer to a seemingly hopeless problem.

  2. “You are always apt at pointing out the obvious answer to a seemingly hopeless problem.”

    Haha yeah it’s worse when I do it to myself. “Hey moron, you teach people motivation. You know how to do it.” “Ohhh yeahhhh.”

    You sound like you’re facing a problem similar to what I had about business. My mentors on Rockstar told me to “small-chunk” things instead of thinking about the big picture. Big picture is for motivation only – other than that, break it waay down.

    Is it hard to be the CEO of a multi-million dollar revenue business with hundreds of employees? Yes. Is it hard to Google and record the steps to registering a business? No. Neither is acting on that information. Or creating a small budget to put money away for a model of a product. Or Googling the names of VCs in your field. Or sending emails to those VCs asking for advice.

    Etc etc. To keep the chunks small, always ask yourself “what are the steps to accomplish this?” Write those down on a to-do list. Check them off when you’re done.

    I have to run! Feel free to email me at [email protected].

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