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The Journey is the Destination

The current Wired magazine is edited by Alias and Lost creator J.J. Abrams who also wrote an article titled “The Magic of Mystery.

Half-way through the article,I thought he was talking about basketball, not spoilers for the ending to Lost:

We’re smack dab in the middle of the Age of Immediacy. True understanding (or skill or effort) has become bothersome—an unnecessary headache that impedes our ability to get on with our lives (and most likely skip to something else). Earning the endgame seems so yesterday, especially when we can know whatever we need to know whenever we need to know it.

Therein lies the problem with basketball development. Skill development is “bothersome” and nobody wants to “earn the endgame.” We want to be great already so that we can move on to something else. Abrams writes about using cheat codes to finish video games or to get to the next level. But, players constantly try to do the same thing. The problem is that there are no cheat codes. You cannot skip ahead to the next level. You cannot drink a magic potion and walk out the door and dunk.

People often ask me how Lost is going to end…But I always wonder, do they really want to know? And what if I did tell them? They might have an aha moment, but without context…That is to say, the experience—the setup for a joke’s punch line, the buildup to a magic trick’s big flourish—is as much of a thrill as the result. There’s discovery to be made and wonder to be had on the journey that not only enrich the ending but in many ways define it.

Youth sports suffers from the same affliction now. We do not play or train for the enjoyment or the excitement of playing and improving. Instead, we want to skip ahead and get our scholarship. But, what about the every day experiences? What about learning to do a new move? What about getting past a sticking point on your last squat repetition? If you do not enjoy these experiences – if you ignore these experiences entirely – suddenly you get to the “endgame” (the scholarship) and rather than an “aha moment” and a sense of closure, you realize that now the work really starts.

The point is, we should never underestimate process. The experience of the doing really is everything. The ending should be the end of that experience, not the experience itself.

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