1 Lesson to Learn from Sports

Playing sports is incredible fun going by the entertainment value it provides.

There, everything usually happens in a blink of an eye. If it is cricket, ball comes to the batsman within a fraction of a second. A footballer has a moment to adjust the ball away from the keeper and defenders and put it in the goal. And even if the time is available, the task requires utmost focus and hand-eye coordination, as in golf.

In essence, sports is all about achieving something that has a lower probability of occurrence. That is why goals are celebrated in football, sixes in cricket, backhand smash in tennis, and so on. Now if something has a lower probability of happening, it will actually happen — that’s right — only sometimes. Therefore, one frequently faces failure in sports.

The case with life is a little different. Let us see how.

Learning is of paramount importance when it comes to doing anything. Josh Kaufman said that anything can be learned up to a reasonable level in 20 hours. In the best-selling book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery in a field. I think that these are not discrete numbers, and the required time to learn and apply something spreads across the whole spectrum from 20 to 10,000 hours, depending on both the nature of the desired field and the significance of its role in one’s life.

In any case, let us take 10,000 hours as the benchmark and assume that one spends this time in both learning and application in order to achieve a goal.

Now 10,000 hours/40 hours/week /52 weeks/year ~ 5 years.

So basically life gives us multiple shots at success divided in 5 year segments — 5 years for each project. If it takes the first 25 years to start a professional life, then from 25-65 years, there a total of 8 shots available from 25-30, 30-35, and so on.

Then, one lesson to take from sports is the following: You can’t fail in life.

For one thing, unlike sports, one gets the chance to perform again, and again, and again. There are no average career statistics. Just one success is enough.

For another, life does not happen in a blink of an eye, nor it is about achieving something in a dramatic moment of glory. Life is all about constructing something worthwhile gradually over a period of time. Good habits and consistent steps every single day are what matter most. The only requirement is to find something that consumes you.

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