Admitting to not Knowing
I've been in awe of Jason Pierre Paul's abilities since the first Giants game that I saw him in. And then learning of his famous back flips (at 6'7") and football statistics despite having come to the game relatively late in life reinforced my view. But this story highlighting his mental approach is worth blogging.
Pierre-Paul is not afraid to ask questions, even questions others might be embarrassed to ask. He's also not afraid to make mistakes. Full-on, high-speed mistakes. While the instinct of many is to avoid reaching out for help, Pierre-Paul knows what he doesn't know and is trying to learn quickly.
"I think I said something to him about his hand placement and there he was by the end of practice, fixing it," defensive lineman Justin Tuck said. "I think we said something to him about his stance a month ago and he fixed it.
"He's not just trying to get by on his athletic ability. He's trying to go way beyond that."
"My parents always told me to ask [questions]," Pierre-Paul said. "They would never make any of us feel bad for asking a question. That's just how I was raised."
That attitude has shown up time and again in the ego-heavy confines of the team meeting rooms or on the practice field.
"You get a lot of guys, especially young guys, who are afraid to ask," Giants linebacker/defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "They sit in the back and you look at them and say, 'Do you understand?' They look up and say, 'Yeah, I got it' and you know they don't, but they're too embarrassed to ask.
"With Jason, he doesn't care. He's smart enough to know what he doesn't know and he'll keep asking and asking and asking. If he has to ask something five times, he will until he gets the answer that he understands. He's not just a great athlete trying to get by on talent. He wants to learn."
Indeed being willing to ask questions even if it means looking stupid is a skill I'm still working on. But it's well worth it, for not only does it accelerate my learning, but the very attitude makes a perceptible improvement in my quality of life as it makes me both more relaxed and more forthright.