Don’t Put Your Dreams in Jeopardy


I was at dinner a little while back with a friend and he told me a story I thought was worth sharing. It was about a friend of his who was obsessed with the TV show Jeopardy. He would watch it constantly and decided he wanted to try to get on the show some day.

Already, he was a fountain of trivia and random knowledge, but in preparation he spent all his time working through flash cards, reading a variety of related books and articles, and preparing his mind for the show. His one form of relief from this relentless shovel of knowledge into his brain was when his friends would convince him to take a couple minute break and play a video game with them. However he was awful at the video games they played. He was constantly dying, not able to hold his own, and didn’t really enjoy it much. He just had no hand/eye coordination and slow reflexes, and didn’t do well with these games.

So he continued to practice his flash cards, have people quiz him, just fill all his free time with preparation for the game show. Then he finally had his moment and got called up to compete in the show. This was it; his big moment. So he focussed even more on his trivia. No longer having time for the silly video games, he worked non-stop preparing, in any way he could think of, to dump more random facts into his mind.

He flew out to do the show, full of nervousness and excitement. He was finally about to get his dream and have his moment on Jeopardy. Once the show started he had confidence as he read over the categories. Then the first question (or answer I guess in this case) came and he excitedly reached for his buzzer, confident in his answer. However he was too slow, and didn’t get the points. As the game continued, he continued to struggle with the buzzer – and although he knew most of the answers he was getting no points during the game while he continually fumbled or delayed when it was time to buzz in. It turns out his short comings with hand/eye coordination and his reflex time were preventing him from ever getting a chance to use all that great knowledge he had spent so much time crafting and preparing.

In the end he lost, quite egregiously, not because he didn’t have the answers, but because he wasn’t able to buzz in fast enough. In all the preparation he had done for the show he hasn’t spent any time practicing the simple act of buzzing in. And without that critical skill, all the knowledge in the world wasn’t able to win him his moment on the game show of his dreams.

So don’t let your relentless focus get in the way of seeing all the steps in your goals. Because if you do, you might end up putting your dreams in jeopardy too.

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