Play To Your Anatomical Strengths and Weaknesses
When the musicians John Mayer and Cory Wong got together to play guitar, Mayer interrupted Wong while he was rapidly strumming and asked, “Could you keep doing that all day? You could keep doing that all day, right?” Yes, Wong says. “Amazing,” Mayer says. “Here’s what I want to talk about. I watched you play a bunch online.” As Mayer watched videos of Wong, he said he watched Wong’s right hand—his strumming hand. “You have an anatomy thing working for you with your right hand,” Mayer said. “Your right hand is shaped in a way—you have long fingers, very sinewy hands—that allows you to play like that.” Wong plays to his anatomical strengths, Mayer says. “And I wish more players would embrace finding what their strengths and weaknesses are, anatomically—the way your hand is shaped, the way your mind works, etc.—and play to those strengths and weaknesses.” Playing to your anatomical strengths and weaknesses—that’s the theme of this SIX at 6.
Play To The Speed of ThoughtDavid McCullough wrote his books on an old typewriter. People often asked him, do you realize how much faster you could go on a computer? “I don’t want to go faster,” he’d say. “If anything, I need to go slower because I don’t think fast.”
Play To The Convolutions of Your BrainAbraham Lincoln’s law partner, William Herndon, once made a comment that he wished Lincoln could work faster. Lincoln told Herndon that their minds work differently. To illustrate the difference, Lincoln picked up a short twin blade knife a long jack knife. He picked up the small knife: “See here it opens quickly and at the point travels through but a small portion of space.” He then picked up the long bladed jack knife: “It opens slowly and its points travel through a greater distance of space than your little knife: it moves slower than your little knife, but it can do more execution,” Lincoln explained. “Just so with these long convolutions of my brain. They have to act slowly—pass as it were through a greater space than shorter convolutions that snap off quickly…I commence way back like the boys do when they want to get a good start. My weight and speed get momentum to jump far.”
Play To The Technology
Early critics of computer animation said computer-generated images looked too unrealistic. They said that the characters looked “too plasticky” and that the environments looked “too sterile.” One group leaned into these anatomical weaknesses and revolutionized the film industry. Shortly after being fired from Disney, in the fall of 1983, a hand-drawn animator named John Lasseter met Ed Catmull, soon to become the President of Pixar. The two immediately bonded over the dream of making the first computer-animated feature film. Catmull hired Lasseter, and they set out to make the first computer-animated feature film. For the subject of the film, Pixar’s options were limited. The technology at the time struggled to render anything beyond basic geometric shapes, such as cones, cylinders, and spheres. “Frankly, everything the computer-generated looked like plastic,” Lasseter explained. Since “everything looks like plastic,” Lasseter thought, “what if the characters were made of plastic? What if they were…toys?” That’s the reason “we leaned into toys [as] a subject for our very first feature film, Toy Story. It was [because] toys lent themselves to the medium at that time.” Toy Story would go on to be one of the highest-grossing films of all time. And “overnight the opinion [of computer animation] changed,” Lasseter writes. “Because the technology was used in the right way.”
Play To The “Comically Inadequate Players”
In 1968, Bill Walsh became the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals were an expansion team—they got the players the other NFL teams didn’t want. And because he had a roster full of “comically inadequate players,” Walsh created a revolutionary NFL offense. In the late 1960s, NFL offenses were built to primarily run the football. To stop the run, defenses were full of big, strong, physical, and mean players. So, it was clear to Walsh: the newfound Bengals would have to rely on passing the ball. Here, there was another problem: Walsh’s quarterback, Virgil Carter, had a terrible arm. “Virgil,” Carter was once told, “if you want to throw the football more than 20 yards you better fill it with helium.” Embracing Virgil’s anatomical weaknesses, Walsh developed what is now known as The West Coast Offense: an offensive playbook full of passes thrown to wide-receivers who ran precise routes to exacting spots within 12 yards of Virgil Carter. “No helium was required,” Walsh joked. The West Coast Offense was immediately effective. In 1970, the Bengals won the AFC Central Division, and after a few years of consistent success, in 1979, Walsh became the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers—then the worst team on the NFL. With their third-round draft pick in the 1979 draft, the 49ers selected Joe Montana, a quarterback “who everyone said was too small and had too weak an arm to play in the NFL,” Michael Lewis writes in The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. In Walsh’s system, Lewis continues, “[Montana] would become, by general consensus, the finest quarterback ever to play the game.” In the early 1980s, other NFL teams began poaching Walsh’s assistant coaches, and by the mid-2000s, one General Manager said, “Everyone in the NFL today runs Bill Walsh’s offense.” “It all started,” Walsh said, “When I was forced to use Virgil.”