October 30

Use More of the Hoop

My father has been a basketball coach for over forty years. People from all over Ohio ask him to help them with their shooting, which is his specialty. One of the things he taught me at an early age is that—within obvious limits—when you put more arc on your shot, you increase the chances of making it. A shot with more arc approaches the rim from a higher angle, thus increasing the size of the opening the ball can fall into. When your shot is flat, with little arc, you are essentially shooting into an oval, and your technique has to be nearly perfect to succeed. By increas- ing the arc, you add some degree of tolerance for imperfection.

I’ve found that the same principle applies to the creative process. When you try to squeeze everything into a very tight deadline, with little room to maneuver, it’s the same as shooting a flat shot. Everything has to go perfectly for you to succeed. However, when you schedule just a bit of room—flexibility of schedule, space to think and process and adapt— you give yourself some tolerance for variability. You are “using more of the hoop.”

To increase your chances of eventual success, build into your pro- cess a bit of extra space for thinking, processing, and experimenting.


How can you use more of the hoop with the work you are planning?

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