To be the best, replace flair with boredom

Have you ever watched those trick billiard videos? The ones where some guy pockets all the balls with just one flick of his cue stick? I have wondered, more than once, why that magician isn’t the billiards world champion.

The Harlem Globetrotters don’t play in the NBA. Nor did Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan compete in martial arts tournaments. While all these folks are legendary performers, they aren’t competitors. They are artists, not athletes.

This is because their tricks and stunts involve careful orchestration – something that a real world competitor wouldn’t comply with. Even as we watch videos of them perform, we don’t see the videos of them preparing for the act – the one where somebody goes around the billiards table and carefully arranges those balls for the trick shot. We also don’t see the hundred and twenty takes that Jackie Chan does to get a shot exactly the way he wants it.

The most effective moves in a competition are the boring ones – a quick jab or punch delivered with sound technique and practiced a thousand times and not that elaborate round-house kick that an opponents can see from a mile away.

The difference between looking the best and being the best is the difference between perfecting a flashy move versus practicing the boring fundamentals over and over again.

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