by Darrin Schenck


by Darrin Schenck


I was listening to another Joe Rogan podcast the other day and he was discussing the progression that someone new to jiu jitsu experiences with practice.  When you first hit the mats and start to roll with someone, everything seems to happen really fast and you are always reacting to what just happened instead of being truly in the moment (phase 2) or anticipating what is about to happen (phase 3).  I thought this was a great analogy for any new skill or venture that you undertake, and wanted to expand on this thought.  We all want to be in Phase three, but not nearly enough people put in the work to get there.

I remember the days as a beginner racquetball player, and how baffled I was by the overall geometry of the game.  The angles where catching me unprepared and out of position.  I was chasing the ball instead of running to where it was going to end up.  I was scrambling to stay alive in each rally, and it was difficult.  Once I got a little better, I started to get a feel for some of the shots and where they were headed.  The defensive shots were higher and slower, and I could see them coming more easily.  I was able to drift back in the court and be in the right position a little sooner, making those shots easier to play.  Fast forward to the end of my career, and it was as if I had been handed the script in advance.  I could read my opponent’s body position in relation to the ball and know where the next shot was headed before they would make contact with the ball.  Similar to a high level jiu jitsu practitioner, I was anticipating my opponent’s next move before they actually did it.  The game had slowed way down for me at this point, despite the caliber of play being much higher.

Almost all aspects of life are very similar to this.  When you first get hired at a new job you are lost, bumbling around trying to find your way.  After a month, you have a much better grasp of your responsibilities and how to handle them.  After a year, you could probably do at least parts of it blindfolded.  This is the same progression as the jiu jitsu and racquetball examples, practice and familiarity slow the game down.  If you have ever wondered how Steph Curry hits a three pointer from half court or how Patrick Mahomes scrambles around evading the defense and throws to a wide open receiver 40 yards downfield, they are experiencing the same benefit of the game slowing down.  Curry says that he shoots 500 shots a day, every day, and has done so since he was a teenager.  If you do the math on this, that is:

500 shots a day times 365 days = 182,500 shots a year

182,500 shots a year times 20 years = 3,650,000 shots (s0 far)


And remember, this is an average AND just in practice.  The shot count does not include game play.

To gain mastery at anything, it takes this level of commitment.  And to be great means that you do it like you love it, day in and day out, regardless of the mood you woke up in or how your body feels after yesterday’s efforts.  So, how can you apply this thought process to your daily life?

Here is an easy example:  Job interviews.

If you go into a job interview having done no interviews prior, or had minimal experience at it, you are going to feel like that white belt jiu jitsu person stepping onto the mat for the first time.  You are going to be nervous and things are going to feel like they are coming at you faster than you would like.  You’ll be reacting instead of conversing, you’ll be in defense mode instead of just calming taking the “play” as it develops.  Ideally in an interview you are cool, calm and collected, and not too much that they throw at you is something you haven’t seen before.  You have practiced this scenario multiple times, and things are going to flow for you.  You don’t want to go into an interview as a “white belt”, you need to practice and rehearse things so you are at least a blue belt.

How do you achieve blue belt status?  The same way the jiu jitsu players do…practice!  You need to be in those situations over and over before they become somewhat comfortable.  If you are still in college, your school likely has some resources like career counseling that can help you with mock interviews and preparation.  If not, you need to create you own opportunities.  Here are two of my best suggestions:

  1.  Job Fairs – you will have the chance to do a bunch of interviews, albeit short ones, over and over.  In most cases, you get about three minutes with someone in a booth at a job fair, unless you really make a good impression.   Maybe they will pull you aside and give you more time, but in most cases they will need to speak with the others lined up waiting to do so.  DO NOT start with a company that you wish to work for, don’t burn your most desired job opportunity before you are ready.  Get some practice reps in on the other companies there at the job fair that you really don’t care about.  THEN go to the top ten list you wrote out ahead of time and work your way towards the top of the list.
  2. Mock Interviews – if you are graduating soon, chances are that you bump into people every day that are in the same boat.  Get together and practice!  Look up common interview questions and have them ready when it is your turn to be the interviewer.  This will not only help you see things through the eyes of the interviewer, but also learn the common questions that will will likely be handed when interviewing.  RECORD your sessions, and look for things like poor eye contact, fidgeting, and anything else that makes you seem nervous or unprepared.  Review your game footage and practice the areas that need it.

Like with anything, we get better with practice and familiarity.  Put in the practice ahead and “slow down” the feeling of the interviews by making it something you have done a bunch of times before.  Nothing is going to guarantee you  success, but not doing this will likely guarantee that you will not be successful in landing the job.  And keep in mind, you don’t need to “master” the art of interviewing, but you do need to be a little better than the others who are also interviewing for the same position.

As always, I wish you luck in your endeavors.


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