Monday, April 26th, 2010...11:47 pm

Know Yourself

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I once read a Chuck Klosterman story in which, as an aside, he shares an anecdote about the sports journalist Howard Cosell. Cosell once went out of his way to step in and break up a random fight between two strangers who were brawling in the street. An amazed Al Michaels, who was walking with Cosell, asked him why he put himself in such a dangerous situation and Cosell simply answered “I know who I am.”

At first I thought the story was pointless. Like Howard Cosell’s persona, I didn’t really get it. But the story has stuck in my head. In fact, I now think the story probably perfectly exemplifies why Cosell was such an outsized personality. He told it how it was was, no matter the reaction. To him, there was no other way to tell it.

It’s easy to try and be the person that you want to be or that others want you to be. Everyone has there own idea of what is attractive or impressive and we usually try to be just that. We’re trained at a young age to please our parents, teachers and coaches. We learn in high school to crave acceptance and approval. It makes life easier/smoother.

What I find very impressive are people who understand who they are. People that are comfortable in their own skin. It’s calming to be around them because they seem calm with themselves.

I would like to think I’m comfortable with who I am. To do this, I often think about what I am not. It is disappointing when I realize my actions sometimes fall short of my intentions. But it is also very telling. I’d also like to be a confident person. To do this, I try to figure out everything which I’m insecure about. Nobody is good at everything. The trick is recognizing what I suck at.

I like to use sports analogies so here is one. I think I’m a good 3 point shooter. I love to shoot 3 pointers. I love it even more when they go in. But my career 3 point shooting percentage is probably 15% (less if you ask Hillman or Vant). It is below average. I’d much rather recognize that, stop shooting 3′s and do things I’m good at. That is what will allow me to win.

When you really know yourself I don’t think you ever have to make a crucial decision in life. I think you just contemplate your choices and the decisions are made based on who you are. Whenever I hear about somebody agonizing over a big decision I wonder what they’ve been (or haven’t been) doing their whole life up until that decision that is making it so difficult. If you have to think about shooting the 3 pointer, it’s not going to go in.

It’s not always easy when you know yourself though. It’s easy to go with the flow. But sometimes your flow is different than everybody else’s. Then it becomes more difficult to get where you want to go. To be very honest, I’m unsatisfied with my accomplishments so far to date in my life. What I am proud of are those decisions in which I followed my own flow when it was going against the current. I hope to do that more. If I do, I know I will accomplish what I want too.

When I meet a new person I don’t want to impress them. I would rather them just see me for who I really am. I’m not sure if there really is a way to do this succinctly and that’s probably why I suck at small talk and chit chat.

I write all this because I’ve been thinking about what I want to do in this my 29th year. The more I think the more I come to the same conclusion. I have a pretty good idea of who I am. I know what makes me tick. I know what I can’t tolerate. I know where I want to go. So all I really need to do is work hard to put myself in the right position. Because when I get the ball in the post, my sweet up-and-under move somehow works just about every time (no matter who is guarding me).

Here is an entertaining interview between Howard Cosell and Muhammod Ali where both men tell it like it is…