If I could be a superhero and have one superpower, I would want to understand how to immediately help people build skills to become happy in discovering their true self and game on and off the court (and then I’d also like to fly because that is the cat’s meow of superpowers)… Or maybe it was teleporting, I can’t really be sure these days.
Staying true to yourself is a cliche, but the more I live life, the greyer my hair gets, the more wrinkles I get, the older my parents get, the older my friend’s kids get, the more I see a fool’s game that our society perpetuates; that staying true to yourself is weak; that staying true to your passions are dorky; that making art, music, writing, helping others, working less, working more, and doing something different is taboo. Or maybe this is just how I feel being an ex-athlete. The truth is, I don’t care what people do. I only care they are happy doing what they do and getting closer to realizing their process goals and long-term visions.
But, I don’t want to waste your time reading on about blah-blah-blah–Trevor’s-life-is-so-weird-he-doesn’t-work-a-regular-job… so here are three things we can do right now to help us begin the process of self-actualization, (which, defined by Merriam-Webster: to realize fully one’s potential):
3 Stay True Superpowers:
- To find your happiness zone, optimize and learn your hard or soft skills in your hopeful field and figure out which skills category you fall into before practicing them.
- Let go of the friends, peers, critics, or the voices in your head that doubt you being you is the correct path, unless you find yourself in Flint drug houses, or moving towards a really unhealthy place.
- And the last one is my favorite: be you in all your glory, be authentic, laugh more, and start living shamelessly in the full expression of yourself.
Maybe living and slow traveling around the world keeps you feeling young, because I have found simple truths in a book called The Little Book of Talent that speak to me. This book speaks to how I built skills for basketball. This book speaks why my father was absolutely right in throwing me into the fire and letting me fail at an early age. This book shows you how to be different, how to stop measuring talent as self-worth indicator, and how to eat dirt for awhile so you can make your dreams a reality.
Living free of society’s pressures begins with knowing what and who you want to actually self-actualize as in the future. That can be a burden knowing what you want to be. Maybe that is why I write too, to help me sift through my own fears and insecurities because I don’t want to work for other people’s dream businesses, start-ups, or be on a payroll.
Most of us are too scared to let go of a paycheck and yes, most of us are too scared to admit it. On the other hand, most of us can’t find the higher idea, profession, field, cheaper way to live, sustainable income situation, or life goals to aspire to day after day, and worse, we don’t know how to build the required hard and soft skills to get there.
There is a certain amount of vulnerability in writing and sharing the interior of who you want to truly become and be in this moment– your fears, your dreams, and what you truly want– and there is also myriad of excuses for adults and kids that think there isn’t enough time in the day, but still spend too much money/time on big houses, fancy things, video games, cars, and let their expenses and time spiral out of control.
Before I word vomit all over this page, my editor tells me I must have an objective with each article I write, so let’s focus on skill building as our main superpower we want to improve today. And let me tell you, superpowers aren’t easy to make. Building and optimizing hard and soft skills are hard. It is challenging to learn online. I know I need to join a class to actually get anything out of it. Go to something where there is a community, a teacher, an expert, and a discussion about something I am interested in learning. I realized at a young age that hands-on learning is a strength of mine, as is physical motor skill building, but how do I put myself in those situations more, to learn new superpowers in different fields, where I can practice hands-on skill development necessary for me to self-actualize?
In The Little Book of Talent, the author Daniel Coyle talks about 52 tips for developing hard and soft skills.
Building Skills are a Stay True Superpower
So what is a hard skill?
Hard skills building takes consistency and repetition. Over and over and over, with precise movements, we create a connection between mind and body through repetitious muscle memory. From casting a fishing line to swinging a golf club to shooting a basketball, the more you practice precisely and consistently (and with proper technique), the better you become at that hard skill.
The more you do this, the early you do it, the better you get at it.
My brain and body like optimizing sport’s hard skills– some precise physical movement like doing a crossover, or cleaning a bathroom sink, or instep driving a soccer ball– are big strengths of mine. I have found amazing ways to speed up this process of hard skill building: One, try visualization at random times during the day. Two, begin practicing micro-habits by spending 5-30 minutes doing that hard skill. Two times a day. Three times a day. Heck, why not four times a day. It’s only 2 hours of actual time if you did four-a-days and I’d rather learn a hard skill four times a day in 15-30 minute micro-segments than one hour segment because the brain and the muscles learn that hard skill faster!
Coyle says, “Precision especially matters early on, because the first reps establish the pathways for the future.”
The scary thing is the brain’s ability to keep the body doing the same pattern over and over after it becomes muscle memory. It’s why I have a hard time untraining kids that learn to shoot the wrong way. UCLA Dr. George Bartzokis sums up in the book… our brains are not so good at unbuilding the connections our brains are good at building. They call this the “sled on a snowy hill” phenomenon– the first repetitions are like the first sled tracks on fresh snow…
But much of our badassery comes when we also practice the other category of skills. These are called soft skills. But Stay True Trevor, what are soft skills (thank you for asking!)? Soft skills are live experiments and much like the saying, there are 100 ways to skin a batch of potatoes. The best athletes, CEO’s, artists, travelers, and musicians are more creative and beautiful to watch in real time because of their soft skills. In basketball, playing 1v1, 3v3, or 5v5 is this soft skill development. Watching the beauty of Michael Jordan attacking the rim and twisting his body to score or admiring Steph Curry dribbling to get his defenders off balance so he can get to his hard skill of shooting.
Most of us play sports because of the soft skill nature it provides. It’s fun. It’s never the same. Decisions change based on the variables you calculate in real time.
I would describe the feeling of this soft skill building process as trying to do stand-up improv without a set of jokes. Just get up there and start. See what works. Try creating something, feel it out, adapt and keep moving into the unknown while using your instincts to make decisions and create solutions. Here it is important to let go of your internal critic and never, ever listen to external critics that aren’t helping you become better at that skill. Be flexible and supple like a summer peach left out on the picnic table all day… but don’t eat the peach.
Be the peach.
My soft skills– understanding people, practicing intuition and anticipation, attacking on the fast break, drawing players in and kicking out, building teams through authentic leadership, knowing when to attack and when not too, creating business ideas, fitness experiments, passive income businesses, art, and creating basketball programs, even playing the piano improvisationally– are always something I have naturally explored, practiced, and leaned into.
Knowing the difference of how to practice these two skills is crucial in creating an authentic purpose around your passions. The problem is most of us don’t think we can become what we want or we feel shamed into doing what everyone else is doing because of how it looks on the outside.
Don’t. Practice self-awareness. Don’t wear clothes because others do. Don’t buy things because others do. Question your consumption. Your spending. Your beliefs. Your use of time. Your addictions. Your attitudes towards people of other sex, color, religion, or age.
Knowing yourself means knowing what you want and need in life to be happy. To get there, you have to have certain skills. A lot of humans won’t practice stuff they don’t truly care about. Some of us take what the world gives us and instead of making lemonade out of lemons, we accept drinking lemon juice and let our internal dreamer slowly die.
We don’t question a better path or have enough flexibility to try practicing something else.
As we move through our conditioning and question our own beliefs, we realize our own authenticity is a soft skill we can all continue to practice with laughter, value-aligned friendships, businesses, and relationships. Let go of the fluff, get to practicing four-a-days.
“Stay True Trevor – An ex-pro athlete talking about staying true to your own game.”
*All content is the intellectual property of Trevor Huffman. I also make a few dimes per month off as an Amazon books you buy. Thank you for your support in helping me become an aspiring personal growth writer, author, and helper of adults, kids, and everything in between!