Creativity & The Running Back


“A true genius admits that he or she knows nothing.”
Albert Einstein

“It isn’t enough to think outside of the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.”
— Tim Ferris

runningbackRecently I’ve been intrigued with the ideas of creativity and greatness. What most of us think of as creativity is limited to the arts like writing, painting, dancing, acting, and sculpting. What people don’t consider is athletics. But think of the greats like Michael Jordan, Johnny Orr, Alex Rodriguez, Mario Andretti, Richard Petty, Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Jean-Claude Killy, Apollo Ono, Evgeni Plushenko, and Michelle Kwan.

How did Jordan always make that last shot? Because he practiced? Maybe. Because he was the best in the game? Probably. But I think Jordan had the creative genius to calculate the correct degree of height, of the arch, and of power, all while being double-teamed by defenders to make that last game winning shot. But the calculation was a subconscious thought, similar to ballet dancers and actors.

Let me give you another example, the professional running back. For example: All at once the RB (running back) sees the offensive play unfolding; he sees the hole, the hole insidezonetriplehe’d practised hundreds of times before; creating the hole requires a pulling guard to double team the defensive tackle and the center to move the nose guard to the right causing a gap in the defensive line and subsequent hole; theoretically, in the gap normally covered by the middle linebacker reading a run, but who now reads a pass from the secondary, yelling “pass pass!” The safety bumps and runs with the wide receivers as the tight end drops back to move the defensive right tackle to protect the quarterbacks blind side, while the fullback picks up a nimble cornerback blitzing wide, but the fullback buries him in the backfield; the the handoff finally happens just as the hole appears like an apparition in a dense fog; a hole, first imagined by a coach on a sheet of paper, placed in a playbook as “off-tackle left on two”; practised hundreds of times butpackerback never recognized by the RB; but now, the hole has opened and he’s about to step through the paradigm and into a new future; what’s on the other side of the hole, what does the future hold; this is creativity at its rawest form; this is the result of imagination and practice; it’s a coach’s hypotheses, an offensive lines determination, and an RB’s commitment to his future; yet, he hesitates until he hears his conscience telling to run through the hole; then he runs headlong through the gap while realizing that the runningbackstraightarmhole isn’t the future, it’s simply a doorway, his future lies on the other side of the threshold.

You see, creativity happens throughout all walks of life. From the sciences to the arts to medicine and law and athletics. It happens to most of us even if we never realize it.

But if you’re lucky enough to have children, then I recommend you look them in the eyes because in them you will always find your greatest example of your own creativity.