Maintaining an Intrapersonal Culture of Improvement

My friend Andy made the basketball team at Vassar (congrats buddy!) and posts about something we discussed last year when we were co-captains of the varsity basketball team in high school.

Basketball coaches (and most every other coach) often say at the end of a practice, “Ok guys, this was a so-so practice, let’s be sure to have a really good one tomorrow and put in a full 100%.”

Andy hated when coaches said this because he put in 100% and thought the “We need to give more effort” line was hackneyed and ineffective because of overuse. I understood his frustration. He worked harder (100% all the time) than anyone on the team. But for most of us the reality is we do waver from 100% to 95% back to 100% effort.

Yet even if you are one of those people who thinks (or actually is) a 100%, A+ effort 24/7 kind of guy, accepting this reality can be a dangerous psychological mindset.

If you settle for 100% or A+ then you are settling. The crave to improve evaporates. If you feel like you’ve peaked then you’ve lost your “intrapersonal culture of improvement”.

One reason why I like personal development books / blogs / articles so much is they speak to the idea that we can all improve ourselves and our lives. I’m really happy right now, but why could I not be even happier? I think I’m a pretty organized guy, but who says I couldn’t be even more organized?

I think I’m working really hard at practice, but surely there are ways I could work even harder (or smarter).

This introspection and focus on improvement combats the dangerous mindset of accepting the “status quo” which translates into complacency. Like everything, this is a balancing act. I think you need to at once appreciate and celebrate your own hard work, and then strive to build on it.

2 comments on “Maintaining an Intrapersonal Culture of Improvement
  • Sports are the most obvious forum for teamwork and team assessment of effort, results, etc. I think the discussion here may revolve more around how each individual defines a “good” practice. Is a good practice when “you” work hard and put in 100%? Is it when everyone puts in 100%? What does 100% look like?

    How someone looks at this question will have a large impact on whether or not they prescribe to the good/bad practice approach. This viewpoint is driven primarily by the position one holds on the team. A player is not required nor expected to observe the entire practice and grade that day’s results. A captain of a team probably has a little more responsibilty for this. But ultimately this is a huge part of the coaches role and therefore becomes part of their communication to the team.

    Coach Darren

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