Tools Are Only As Good As The Craftsman Holding Them

In Blog, Discipline, Leadership, Sales
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Think the power’s in the gun, but overall it’s in your heart. – T.I.

You know those arm sleeves basketball players wear, the things that look like a sock with the closed-toe area cut out? I made a YouTube video about their uselessness about 6 years ago.

Some people argued that the sleeve has a use — it prevents sweat getting to your hands (false, since your hands have sweat glands too) or it keeps your elbow straight for shooting (umm… No) or that it protects your arm if someone fouls you or you fall (yeah right. Watch a football player, with much thicker padding, get injured).

Many mentioned the idea that people wear it as a placebo and/or to emulate their favorite players. This I agree with, and that is a good business idea: those things were everywhere a few years ago.

The bottom line point was this: the tools, in this case an arm sleeve, will not save you when the game begins. If you cannot play, the sleeve has no magic powers to change this.

Recently I was on Periscope taking random questions and got asked about the “best” basketball sneakers for certain situations. My response that the shoes didn’t really matter riled some people up.

Of course you had the extremists with their elementary analogies — so you’re saying you could play ball just as well with boots on? — but even the rational commentators didn’t accept my position.

This brand is better than this brand. 

This shoe is for guards and this one is for power forwards and centers. 

This 2015 one clearly performs better than the 2014 version — even _____ (YouTube sneaker enthusiast / performance tester person) says so! 

(Take Notice: anytime anyone who tells you that something — in this case, the basketball sneaker — is key to your success, is the same person whose livelihood or significance hinges on your acceptance of the idea. If you completely rejected everything they’ve said, what would happen to them? This is a good way to weight the objectivity of people’s opinions or even their very existence in business.)

Same point as before, with one given: as long as it’s a performance shoe made for sports, the sneaker will not make nor break you.

The entire basketball gear conversation is not the point here; as the great marketing work by your favorite companies has brainwashed people into believing they “need” things — a practice I completely support, by the way, as it benefits me as well in many ways in and out of sports. Difference: I like that it matters. I don’t need it to matter.

But to the point: for 99% of people in any field, tools are rarely the reason you win or lose. Most of the time it’s your competence or incompetence in using what you have.

Like I always say: a bum-ass basketball player will still be a bum while wearing the new $300 Jordans. A good player will still be good with a $45 pair from Target or $100 pair from Nike.

The difference is in ability. Resourcefulness over resources.

As soon as you accept the idea that your tools are the key to your success, you lose power: remove the tool, and what’s left? If someone steals your Kobes an hour before the game, will you play in these “basic” Nike Airs? Would that be your excuse afterwards if you lose?

Some say, well if you have great shoes you feel good and play better.

True. You also feel good when you are actually good at what you do.

If you didn’t feel good until you got the shoes, I have news for you: you’re a bum. This is an analogy that applies to any type of work or performance, by the way. Not just basketball.

Don’t give your power away to your resources. Resources like shoes and money come and go. You take you with you wherever you go. Anyone can buy shoes. You can’t buy a game. You can only earn it with what money can’t buy: effort. Energy. Persistence. Dedication.

A simpler way of looking at it is this. Remove every element from your work, one by one. Which element’s removal makes the job impossible? You, or the materials?

I was replacing the license plate frame on my lady’s vehicle recently. I used a screwedriver for the job. Did it in 3 minutes.

Question: if I hadn’t a screwdriver could I have still changed the plate? Yes. Would’ve taken awhile and hurt my hands, but yes.

Another question: if I wasn’t there but the screwedriver was, would the plate have been changed? No. Never.

Tools do help you get the job done, yes. But if you misplaced your tool belt, you’d still have to go to work.

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