The Impossible Dream
Every day many people have their first experience with pool. Some of them become fascinated with the movements, the colors, the possibilities, the challenge. Soon they find ways to play more, to learn the fundamentals, and to improve rapidly. They find it very gratifying to become good at something new and to earn the acclaim and respect of their peers.
Many of these people dream of some day mastering the game at a very high level. Unfortunately, there are very few true masters of pool. Of the millions who are introduced to pool each year, the vast majority, probably 98% of them, will remain throughout their lives with only the most rudimentary skills. Of the 2% whose skills improve beyond mediocrity, the very great majority of them, probably 99% of them, will still fall far short of becoming an acknowledged Master.
The reason why there are so few players with skills at the highest levels is certainly not due to the lack of knowledge. Today, there is a dazzling array of resources for the passionate player to learn. There are teachers, books, videos, training devices, drills, and competitions so numerous that anyone will find their efforts at learning richly rewarded. And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the heart of the matter -- effort.
It is easy to dream great thoughts. But it's doing the work that makes all the difference. And the secret ingredient in doing the work is perseverance. One must continue to do the work over a long period of time. Ten years is the generally accepted amount of time it takes for anyone to become a master at any chosen endeavor, anything from brain surgery to billiards. Ten years of full focus and dedicated work. For a pool player that means hitting about a million balls. Maybe you could do it in only half a million, but don't count on it.
The sad fact is that people are lazy to begin with, and over time their priorities change, they become discouraged, they lose interest, Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt intrude. Life Happens. This eliminates all but the most passionate and dedicated, and even then it takes some luck along the way. Luck is always lurking in the background, and you never really know which way it will take you. But luck aside, it's really all about doing the work.
And, of course, doing the work intelligently makes all the difference. For example: one aspiring player may work 12 hours a day hitting balls to improve skills and never advance to master level, while another player may work half that, but do it in a way that builds skills rapidly to master level, possibly taking as much as 2 or 3 years off the path to mastery.
In fact, there exists a generalized methodology for becoming successful at almost any endeavor. I have for many years studied and continuously developed a System for Success which I have applied to several "adventures" in my life, from business, to aviation, to billiards, yoga, and others. Now, fully retired, I give back by mentoring several business Protégés in this System. It is my intention to share this System, and how it can be applied to mastery of pool, in easy to read and understand articles in these blogs.
However, I must give fair warning. It is highly unlikely that you will ever ascend to the level of master of pool simply because you will not persevere. The odds against anyone reading this and applying the principles of the System for Success, and staying with it, are astronomical. And yet, I write these words, with the hope that, given enough time, someone may discover them, and apply the lessons, and persist until they succeed.
So my first bit of advice is to forget about it. Choose some endeavor that has a higher payoff, or don't even bother with trying to master anything. The odds are so against it. Instead, live life fully, get some sunshine on your face, breathe fresh air, find opportunities for random acts of kindness, allow your inner peace to blossom. Do this before you attempt to master pool and you will at least be happy and healthy. Which is the higher goal, to become successful at pool, or at Life?
However, if you are so driven, so obsessed, and so committed to mastering the fine art of billiards, then the best strategy you can have is to read everything you can, intently watch a zillion pool videos (lessons and competitions), take lessons from a master, practice until your fingers bleed, compete against better players every chance you get, and stay with it for years, and years, and years.
Next month: Your Plan for Excellence in Pool.
A definition of Success:
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...
to leave the world a better place...
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
On the essential nature of Persistence:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve
the problems of the human race”
Further reading on these topics:
Quotes on Perseverance, and Persistence and Success.
Generalized System for Success: Think - Plan - Do - Repeat
This article is the first of a series of posts written in coordination with other pool bloggers entitled "PoolSynergy" . This first month's theme is STRATEGY. To see others, go to: http://www.poolstudent.com/2009/11/15/poolsynergy-volume-001/