General

Importance of Self Assessment: Evaluating Yourself in the Third Person

In the newest issue of Recoil (Issue 16), there is a pretty good article by Pat McNamara about physical fitness. These articles are a recurring column for him, but the concept behind this one caught my attention. In a nutshell, Mr. McNamara posits the idea of imagining that he would clone himself today, with all of his strengths and weaknesses, and then figure out how to beat himself.

Now, the article is geared towards if he had to get into a fight with himself, with an emphasis on strength and fitness. But I think this is a useful tool for self evaluation in other ways. If we change the paradigm to one of competition rather than combat, how does that change the equation?

When it comes to any particular activity people enjoy, it seems that they tend to train the things they are already good at- because its easier and more rewarding to the “feel good” center of the brain to do succeed at the things they are good at. This can cause problems when other areas are neglected, though. As I write this, I imagine the stereotypical gym rat with huge arms and chest, but scrawny little chicken legs. Like this guy:

people-who-prove-you-should-never-skip-leg-day-18

This got me thinking about what biases I have been unwittingly inflicting on myself. More importantly, what are my actual weaknesses that could be used to beat me in a contest?

If I were to clone myself today, how would I beat myself?

Strengths:

  • Hand-Eye Coordination (thank you years of video games)
  • Lower body muscle strength
  • Good in the prone and sitting positions
  • Reasonably injury free and good mobility
  • Good eyesight

Okay/Weaknesses:

  • Mediocre to poor endurance
  • Mediocre upper body strength
  • Not accurate/precise in kneeling or standing positions
  • Unpracticed in improvised positions
  • Unpracticed in time pressure
  • Balance and flexibility could use work in many areas
  • Mental focus not always on track

If I’m looking to go up against myself one year from now, how would I train to do that? Current me can be pretty good at taking my rifle from the car to the shooting area and shooting a little group from the sitting with unlimited time. But current me would probably not fair so well if he had to run a mile, or sprint 400 meters, and then perform the same shot with a time limit.

Clone me can stands a reasonably good chance of making a challenging shot if he can get low enough to the ground. But if the conditions or terrain demand something “taller,” then his chances decrease by quite a bit. If I arranged a shooting competition with those kinds of tasks, then future me would do significantly better.

In the coming year, I can look at these weaknesses of the cloned version of myself as obstacles to be overcome and actively work to improve them. In turn, that makes me a better marksman overall, and a more capable shooter (and, frankly, military officer). I can target what areas to strengthen, perhaps do yoga for balance and flexibility, practice mindfulness/meditation for focus, and experiment with positions/techniques that I have neglected.

I used to have a motto years ago that I always wanted to be a better person today than I was yesterday. At the time, I was more focused on personal growth at a philosophical and emotional level, but there is no reason that it can’t work on a physical level as well.

So, in the end, take an honest look at your current abilities

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