So a few nights ago I did a very minor action hero thing. I played at being someone else.
It didn’t call for disguising myself or faking my way through an escape or anything so glamorous. Though I really should try doing just that sometime.
What happened was that during fencing I started role-playing, and the funny thing is it paid off.
See, I’m not really such a hot fencer, or at least it doesn’t come naturally to me. Sure, I love to swashbuckle and have a good time, but in good fencing the blade work should be tight and controlled with no flailing around like in a movie. I like to flail so much I can look like Zorro on speed. Hence I get hit a lot. I’m also a mass of bad fencing habits, which keep hurting my game, which in turn can send my confidence through the floor and make me very nervous, which can be deadly for a fencer.
But the other night, in the middle of a bout, I did something strange. I suddenly started doing Jim.
See, Jim is one of the best fencers in the place – or in the state, for that matter. He has a distinctive style – tapping his foot forward in mere inches until suddenly he lunges-pulls-back-lunges-again, and with terrifying speed and blade accuracy. He moves with a Borg-like coolness and calculation and perfect confidence. You just plain can’t rattle the guy. Well, earlier in the evening I had watched him picking off an opponent. Now here I was with the same opponent, and in a moment of despair (as usual I was losing) I channeled Jim.
It worked. I got several good hits. I still lost, but not by a huge spread.
Now by channeling I mean I really did try to BE Jim. Role-playing wasn’t enough, ’cause when I tried to simply copy his techniques, I flubbed up. Imitation was insufficient. I discovered I had to step outside myself and however briefly pretend that I was in body, mind and emotion this guy. And believe me, it was tough trying to switch identities in the middle of fast-moving action. But in the moments when I succeeded I was a calmer, better fencer.
Funny, isn’t it, how sometimes we have to get out of our own way if we want to get somewhere?
I really am serious now about this new approach. For the next few weeks I’m going to watch Jim like a hawk, and I’ll watch the other best fencers until I have their moves and techniques down too. Then mentally I’m going to try to get into their bodies and heads when I fence. ‘Cause I know firsthand that in some cases just being myself and doing what comes naturally will mean I’ll fail.
How about you? Do you ever block your own path to success? Any techniques you have to get around the problem?