What are the odds of becoming a professional basketball player?

Slim.

There are 360 NBA players. It is estimated that only 2% of high school players will make a college team. And 1% of the college players will make a NBA team. (The odds get worst when you include international play.)

It is a very elite group. Each level relies on talent—the stuff that you are born with like being 7 feet tall.

And yet…

Yet, it has been reported that in extreme cases some families will spend 10% of their income on youth sports.

The question is, why spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on coaching, when it could be put into a savings account? Wouldn’t parents be better off sticking it away for college?

The answer is simple: People misbehave all the time to fuel an internal narrative as they see the world.

In this case, parent don’t see these types of prices as costs but rather an investment. We don’t purchase things because it makes financial sense, we do it because of how it makes us feel.

It’s no wonder we see a rise of unsportsmanlike conduct with so much being put on the line.

There is no blueprint to becoming an artist

In the 1960’s, British musicians were doing what they could to get CD’s of American blues artists like Muddy Waters and Skip James in hopes of replicating their music. And by simply adding a dash of English folk, Led Zeppelin was born.

It wasn’t just the British. Dylan wanted to sound like Odetta and Woody Guthrie. The Dead stole from Bill Monroe and Charles Ives.

All artist steal from other artists.

Because there is no blueprint, no map, no step-by-step set of instructions to follow to become a great artist.

You just copy what is available to you. And overtime, you add your own unique twist to things.

Think of it as an arc, a large body of work, that you get to contribute to.

It’s not ours to hold, but it is ours to share. We get to add one more piece to the puzzle.

How to read more

  1. Carry a book with you at all times.
  2. If the book is not enjoyable, put it down and find something else. Sometimes the difference between a great book and an average book is our attitude. There are different books for different seasons.
  3. Use a digital log to keep track of your reading habit. I use Goodreads.
  4. Make social media apps difficult to access. You can put them on a separate page that isn’t convenient to check. You can also sign out after each use and make it mandatory to sign back in. Of course, you can also delete the app.
  5. Buy books in batches. I like buying books used from Amazon. I feel like I am rescuing them. When you finish one, you can have the next one ready.
  6. Set a big, audacious goal. Read one book a week. If you fall behind, you can buy a smaller book or an audio.
  7. You can never have too many highlighters. I use horizontal lines to highlight certain passages, a vertical line if I like multiple paragraphs and dog ear pages that have essential, game changing, paradigm shifting ideas.
  8. If you loved a book, buy another copy for someone. Great ideas are worth sharing. Some of my favorite conversations have been around books I’ve shared with friends.
  9. Sometimes it helps me to throw on some instrumental music. You can’t go wrong with Jazz.
  10. Rescue an hour a day. You can wake up early, read at your lunch break, cut out Netflix…find 60 minutes to invest in yourself. Even if you only have five minutes to spare, read. Often, you’ll find that five-minute session turn into fifteen.

Tipping points and dominoes

In 1816, Robert Owen and Sir Robert Peel introduced a Bill to the British House of Commons to have stricter laws on the hours children worked.

It was purposed that children be at least nine years old and could not work more than twelve and half hours per day. At the time, children were working as early as six years old, up to sixteen hours per day.

Factory owners were outraged to say the least.

Despite doctors testifying of the potential health problems working in such harsh conditions, it was viewed that there was no other way to do tasks in tiny spaces (like cleaning flues or chimneys).

Of course, that really wasn’t the problem. Culture dictated that it was better for children to be working rather than engaging in pilfering. But not all children. Specifically, the poor. The view at the time was that the poor were poor because they deserved to be.

It took three years, before the minimum age of fourteen was passed. The Bill was heavily amended from its original and rarely enforced.

Unfortunately, change doesn’t happen overnight.

It happens little by little, drip by drip. This Bill while at the time seemed like a win for the factory owners was the first crack in the system. A couple of decades later, the Factory Act of 1833 raised the bar for working conditions. And 50 years after that, the eight-hour workday was introduced.

Here’s the thing, Rachael Carson didn’t think Silent Spring was going to start a global environmental movement (and eventually inspire the formation of the EPA). Rosa Parks didn’t think she was going to unite a divided nation. Jacqueline Novogratz didn’t think she would become a voice for the voiceless.

There are tipping points and then there are dominoes that need to fall before we reach critical mass. We don’t give enough credit to those who opened the door for someone who turn around and open doors for others.

But that’s how this work works.

Real change takes time. Sometimes longer than what we have here on this Earth. No matter where you are in the arc of the work you do, your contribution is making a dent.

The angrier we are, the surer we feel

When we’re angry, we use the corrugator supercilii muscles near our eyes to pull our eyebrows down and together. This causes our forehead to wrinkle and squint our eyes. As a result, we significantly cut off our peripheral vision. (Try it.)

In other words, anger literally narrows our vision, cutting off what we can see. Paradoxically, the angrier we are, the surer we feel about ourselves.

It’s a useful metaphor. The less we see the more frustrated we feel. Yet, we can’t see unless we learn to look.

Maybe that is why anger makes us so stubborn. We pick an island and decide to die on it since we can’t see any other useful alternative.

The gap theory

Anytime we come across a gap in our knowledge, we have an innate desire to close it.

Human beings have an incredible ability to fill in these spaces.

We hear bits and pieces of a story and go to great lengths to fill in the details with previous biases and prejudices.

Often, these conclusions can get in our way from seeing the world as it is.

What if we instead tried to see things as they are, not as we think they should be?

The problem with blaming social media

We blame social media for many of our problems today, and for good reason.

Except…

Except, we have been on this path for a long time.

Bullying predates cyber bullying.

Narcissism and vanity have been around a lot longer than selfies.

The internet and social media haven’t created these problems, it has amplified them.

When talking about social media as the culprit, we have to be really clear what it is we are actually talking about.

Social media is a symptom not the root cause of the challenges we face.