You might not expect to find much wisdom in the obsessed world of college basketball. Many of us think of false machismo, and even a propensity to cheat and put aside long-term health. The pursuit of victory trumps everything, or so we imagine. But former UCLA Coach John Wooden is the source of some of the most remarkable insights. He even practiced an almost Buddhistic non-attachment. Of course, he loved to win and wanted to win. But Wooden created a unique definition for winning. And he remained loyal to it even under the immense pressure of his job.
As anyone who floats, meditates, or practices yoga knows, our perception apparatus is imperfect. While it seems like we directly perceive reality, the truth is that we have second-hand perception (at best). This allows room for much error.
There is objective truth. But we only see tiny slices of it. Then we layer on complexities like our personal story and our emotions. Our initial limitations combined with the complexity we add means that our sense-making systems often fail to provide accurate pictures of reality.
Intuition is a powerful force of the human mind. And lately intuition-as-desirable-mental-state is having a moment. Books like Blink by Malcolm Gladwell have popularized the idea. You don't have to look far to see people espousing the value of intuition. But, as with many popularized ideas, there are misconceptions.
For a long time, a rationalist model of the mind prevailed. We believed that, given the choice, humans would act with rational self-interest. Today, it's understood that this isn't the case. We don't always or even usually act rationally. And we often self-sabotage our judgements using oversimplified heuristics that fail us.
New belief systems are shiny, with all the bells and whistles. But being the first to 'download the update,' we also experience the bugs. Debugging is a process to smooth out the new operating system with older features. New belief systems also inevitably conflict with older belief system features. It takes some generations to 'debug' the new belief system.
Being a human today is complicated. Life can be challenging enough without having to go against the grain of our basic personality. Which is why it's important for us to do what we're best suited for. This applies to work, relationships, and even how we spend our free time.
Self knowledge allows us to do more of what we're good at, and, at least, develop strategies to counterbalance our weaknesses. But even more important, self-knowledge helps us navigate the moment-by-moment flow of life.
Anything that brings you a feeling of unease is a sign. This feeling means you must repair this thing first. Feeling exhausted? Maybe you need to rest. Anger? Maybe you need to forgive and feel more empathy. Feeling lethargic? Perhaps exercise will help. Whatever the feeling, there is an appropriate response.