I mostly advocate for us watching ourselves and maximizing our own games, to the exclusion of watching other people, since many of us aren’t paying enough attention to ourselves — especially with the rise of social media. But since life does involve interaction with people, we can’t just ignore everyone else and still expect to do our best. Other people can help us, and opportunities about for us to help them, and there’s a strategy to it.
That’s what this post is about.
Below I detail and explain the three types of people you should be watching, why to watch them, what you’ll get from watching them, and what to do with what you observe.
Note: None of these people need to be personally known or watched in person, but the closer you can get to them, the better, as you’ll be getting more detailed and unfiltered information.
Pay attention to the person who is…
Doing Much Better Than You
These are the people we call idols or mentors, or just someone we look up to for whatever reason— knowledge, inspiration, new ideas, etc. They’re far ahead of you in some area of importance to you, maybe even so far ahead that you couldn’t fathom how you could ever catch up and match this individual.
Good that you feel this way. That’s the exact reason why you need to be looking at them.
First, understand: We are all 99% alike. Anatomically, the way our bodies function, the placement of certain parts… it’s 99% the same for us all. 99% of what this far-ahead person has, you also have — the exact same stuff. That’s the good news.
That 1% of you that’s malleable, open to choice and (possibly) different from that mentor of yours? This is all that separates one human from another. It’s what we choose to do with this 1% of choice and decision. You could see this as good news, as it’s such a small difference — or as trouble, since it’s a completely blank slate, fully subject to your decisions of thought and action (and in that order).
That person who’s far ahead of you in some area simply thinks differently from you — but not just consciously. Not just the thoughts that we are aware of. It’s the thoughts that you don’t see and can’t point to that are different. Many people aren’t aware of the existence of this sub-conscious train of thought; even fewer are aware of their power to control these thoughts. Good news: I made a Mental Workbook to show you how to control yours and take charge of that optional 1% of your makeup.
Watch this doing-much-better person not for their actions, but the mindset behind the actions:
- Why would they do what they did?
- What’s the mindset behind the results?
- For me to get these same results, what would need to be different about the way I think?
- How could this person be thinking in contrast to how I think?
- How would my mentor approach this situation that I find myself currently in?
(I don’t know is not an acceptable answer to any of the above questions. Think, until you have answers.)
Doing Equally As Well As You, But Doing Things Differently
My junior year of college, I had a teammate named Eric, a senior aiming to graduate. Eric and I were in the same calculus class. I was very lost in that class, understanding nothing and on my way to failing calculus for the second time in three years— probably because I didn’t purchase the textbook, never did the homework, and didn’t take notes in class, but I digress. Eric and I chatted once about this class. He needed to pass calculus to graduate. Eric told me he would visit the professor during the professor’s office hours, asking for help with the concepts Eric had yet to grasp. This would put a face to the name in the eyes of the professor, show that Eric was at least trying to learn calculus, and, hopefully, help Eric get a favorable grade at the end of the semester that allowed Eric to graduate college.
I, on the other hand, never went to office hours. Eric passed with a C and graduated. I failed calculus and had to take it twice more my senior year. I took this same professor my last semester, again never went to office hours, and barely passed with a D. I think the professor was just tired of seeing me in his class.
Who else is in your field, doing a similar job to you? How are they doing their work differently from you? What can you learn from their technique? What can you steal from them?
No matter how smart you are or how well you’re doing, there’s always a way to do better or be more efficient, or a whole new idea that’s never occurred to you. If you’re paying attention, you can borrow other people’s brains by seeing what they’re doing and utilizing what works for you.
1-5 (Or More) Years Behind You
These are the people sitting in the seats you used to be in.
If you’re a retired athlete, these are the current and prospective athletes.
If you own a business, they’re the people who want to start a business.
If you’re happily married, they’re the ones who are recently engaged.
You are a guru to the people who are where you used to be. You’ve been through everything they’re about to face, so you can help them avoid the pitfalls and maybe make the choices you took too long to make. Often, you don’t need to sell yourself to these people; just make yourself available and open to answer their questions. My Work On Your Game Podcast is a result of being open and available to the people who are where I’ve been and addressing the challenges that I know they’re facing or will soon face.
To this audience, you are an expert and are immediately relevant — as long as you’re skilled in articulating and explaining your experiences and knowledge.
That’s it. Watch these people, learn and take notes— all the opportunity of your future is in them.