Ben Scofield

me. still on a blog.


There’s something very strange about the concept of follow-through. Ask a physicist, and they’ll tell you that nothing you do with the club after you hit a golf ball, or with a bat after you make contact with a baseball, has any real effect on the path of the ball. Nevertheless, coaches always emphasize the follow-through – often to the extent of downplaying the moment of contact. What’s going on? The secret to follow-through isn’t that there’s some magic in the motion after the point of contact. The secret is that concentrating on the aftermath – making sure you get into the right position at the end of your movement – is the easiest way to ensure that you’re in the correct position at the crucial moment. As it turns out, it’s just too difficult to focus on all the factors in play at the moment of impact; the only way to reliably, successfully manage them is to focus on later moments, and rely on the laws of physics to get you from point A to point C through point B with all the right factors in place. Interestingly, we do this in all sorts of domains, but the principle doesn’t always hold. When it breaks down, we end up focusing on the wrong things, thinking they’ll get us to our underlying goal. For instance, I recently read a blog post on ways to obtain speaking gigs. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting to speak at events, but I don’t know that anyone has it as the core goal for their life. We want to be famous, or to be respected, or to share our knowledge with the world – but we end up focusing on the speaking instead of that more fundamental aim. Happily, the solution is simple: be mindful. When you’re writing our your goals, be they resolutions in January or things to do today, make sure you evaluate them against your fundamental aims. How does doing this or that contribute to your overarching vision? Are you locked in on an end for itself, or for some benefit you think it might bring along the way? And if it’s the latter, is the follow-through principle really the best method for achieving that benefit?