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RESULTS PART II: A GAME OF TENNIS

September 26th, 2019

 

 

For Part I check out Episode 528.

 

 

The word Result comes from classical Latin, meaning ‘to spring forward, or rebound”

 

This etymology can provide some help for thinking about plans and results in a healthier way.

 

If anything, when it comes to plans and results, our goal is for our plans to increasingly produce the results that we would like to emerge.

 

As explored in Part I, it’s better to move through this iterative process without disappointment, frustration and all the bullshit that surrounds failure.  It’s better because it’s more efficient: we lose less time.

 

Even if a plan completely fails to produce the desired effect, we have still learned something.  We’ve learned what doesn’t work.  This might seem like a limp victory because it’s easy to imagine that a nearly infinite variety of plans would also fail.  This is merely hyperbolic, because fact is, no one is going to be stupid enough to try all of the obvious variations that clearly aim in ineffective directions. 

 

They say a miss is as good as missing by a mile, but this is terrible logic, and simply not true.  If you miss by just a few millimeters, well then that’s definitely not a mile.  It’s a few millimeters, and if the preceding shot was a few centimeters, well then it’s a sign of progress that’s heading in a good direction.

 

We can induce some flexibility into our thinking about results by examining tennis.

 

We fire a shot over the net with the hope that it’ll thwart our opponent and gain us a point.  But our opponent fires a shot back.  Our shot essentially rebounds from our opponent and it springs forward towards us.  This evokes the etymology of Result.

 

We volley back and forth and with each return, or rebound from our opponent, we learn about them.  Oh, she’s slow to get to the right side of the court.  Oh, she’s most comfortable trying to score on the left side.  Oh wait, that was a trick because she just went hard for the right side.  Interesting. 

 

Each time we fire a shot over the net, it’s like a little hypothesis about what might work.  If the ball is returned, then we have a little more information about what works and what doesn’t.

 

A game like tennis in this case is quite helpful for contracting our plans to much smaller iterations.  The goal of the game is to win, but that can’t be achieved with one static plan.  It quite literally changes on the fly and we try a new plan that instantaneously manifests with each returned shot.  Each result or rebound updates our strategy and then our strategy spits out a new plan and we take another shot. 

 

This is more like how we should approach plans in the rest of our life.  Short-term plans and long-term goals.  We carry out plans to see what will work, and the shorter they are, the quicker we get feedback, and the more plans we can make and carry out.  By this method our strategy for achieving long term goals slowly updates.

 

We are essentially always playing tennis with reality.  We try something, and reality shoots back a result.

 

The more results we can invoke by taking action on more and more plans, the quicker we learn just what is going on with reality, and by this way, we increase our agency because we have a better idea of what actually works.


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Podcast Ep. 529: Results Part II: A Game of Tennis

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