Black Swans

In Books by Brock Bourgase

David Hume remarked that “no amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion.” Too many times, coaches and players become conceited, myopic, or ignorant, unwilling to change their paradigm in order to improve.

If you believe that you know it all, there is only one way to learn: teaching yourself. If you are willing to accept that others have valuable knowledge – which may range in significance from high to low – you can learn continuous, even if it is only a little bit at a time. I try to learn something new every day (even if I don’t want to know it) and though the outcome of each day is not always sucessful, the process never fails.

A player or coach can assume that their always right or that the traditional method of operation is best and no contradiction may arise. They could spend a week, a month, or almost an entire season watching nothing but white swans. This ignorance may be bliss in the short-term but desolation row may lie down the long-term row. In the petting zoo that is life, white swans may abound but a single black one can inflict a disproportionate amount of damage. Be mindful of them and seek them out before they bite you. Beaks can be sharp.

Hume was arguing against empiricism, speaking philosophically in the eighteenth century like Heisenberg would speak physically in the twentieth century. Still, individuals searching for meaning and elusive knowledge should not view the immense task as futile. Everyone is capable of learning a little thing. Everyone is capable of opening their minds. Nobody is able to rely on assumptions.

Coaches can only sub players into the game and give them burn; it is up to the individual to show their skills and shine. Throughout the season, players are responsible for demonstrating how they have improved and developed all aspects of the game. Coaches can provide feedback and encouragement but the burden of self-actualization lies with the player. Hume also said that “everything in the world is purchased by labour,” speaking of both the mind and the body.