by: Brandon Richey
Plato And Your Physical Learning Perception???
Today I’m going a little old school. Ok, I’m going real old school by referencing and applying a little bit of Plato. Yes, you read that right the first time, I said Plato! So now that you are wondering what in the hell I’m talking about just keep right on reading so you can find out. It’s going to be interesting, I promise you that for sure!
Perception: The way in which we regard, recognize, or come to see and understand something.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned for certain over the years it is that perception is NOT always the reality. Even in my field I constantly witness young athletes and even more seasoned ones that have certain perceptions about athletics, business, other people, and just the world in general that are just…well their perceptions are just flawed.
People’s perceptions have always been a sort of mystery to me in some ways. I have always felt that I view things a little differently than a great deal of people, but then again I’ve also been labeled as being a “deep thinker” at times throughout my life. No, I didn’t get that from Plato either. I have my parents to thank for that one. 😉 So thank you mom and dad. Now on to the topic at hand.
So earlier this week I was having a conversation with one of my very bright students and good friends. We always like to converse on many different topics covering a wide range from physics all the way down the line to cars, movies, and yes even The Walking Dead, even though he isn’t as big a fan as I am of that particular show. I keep telling him it’s very educational in case there is a zombie apocalypse. 🙂
The conversation ended up being about “what is real” to us and whether or not what we perceive around us as being real. I know this is deep for a strength and conditioning blog, but just hang with me. In this conversation he pointed out to me the story of Plato’s Cave. I happen to love stories so this really peaked my interest.
He was talking about how Plato had come up with an analogy about how we can perceive what we know to be “our” reality based upon what we know. In the story Plato presents us with a scenario of a cave and inside that cave there are prisoners that are cut off from the outside world. Inside the cave the scenario points out that what people could perceive to be reality could in fact be an illusion. Hmmm, am I peaking your interest yet?
So in Plato’s story he points to a situation consisting of a group of prisoners who have been chained and immobilized since childhood. Their legs and head are fixed in place so that they are unable to gaze at anything else other than the wall that’s in front of them. I know, I know, if this were real it would suck big time, but there is a great point to all of this.
Nevertheless the prisoners are gazing upon a wall and behind them is a large fire and between the backs of the prisoners and the fire is a raised walkway. On this walkway people walk back and forth carrying various things on their heads including figures of animals and people made of wood. The prisoners can’t see the actual people behind them because they can’t turn and look for being bound, but they can see their shadows cast upon the wall in front of them. The thing is that the prisoners don’t know these are shadows. To them these shadows are actually the physical people.
They can also hear the echoes of the people, but to the bound prisoners the echoes are the actual sounds from these shadow people that they have come to recognize. From here the story continues to the point that a prisoner is allowed to stand up and turn to see the fire behind him. The light is so bright his eyes must take time to adjust and he would try to turn back to look at the wall and what he perceives to be real.
From here if he were dragged all the way out of the cave to see the outside he would then be blinded by the sun. It would take some time for him to acclimate, but eventually he would come to look upon the world around him. He would eventually be able to understand that the sun is the source of the seasons, the years, and is in some way the source of all the things that he and his companions had been seeing all along. The story goes on to talk about the prisoner’s return to his companions and that his companions, ignorant to the world behind them, would see the returned prisoner with his corrupted eyes and be afraid of anything other than what they have been accustomed to knowing.
The End Point!!!
You see to me this story presents a very valid point. Have you ever thought that you knew most everything about a particular topic or skill only to have been exposed to your own fire and even to the prisoner’s equivalent to your own outside world? You see this is where I’m tying all of this together.
I see kids (and adults) all the time that talk about what such and such athlete did on TV on Saturday during the football game and how they want to step on the field to be able to do the very same thing. Don’t get me wrong this is very possible, but what they are honing in on is the end result of many many months of preparation consisting of blood, sweat, and more blood! It’s easy to look at the finished product and say “I can do that,” but it’s a completely different game to actually go out and DO IT.
You see when it comes to athletic performance I am always shocked at how many athletes are confident in “their own” training program and methods. Look, for those of you who have been following me you know I’m not an arrogant ass, but I have time and time again seen the expressions on many of these athlete’s faces after coming to me for the first time off of “doing their own thing.” The expression on their faces always tells me that they have just been drug out of that cave for the first time! 😉
The smartest element of a well planned strength and conditioning program is that it speeds up physical learning. This is the one thing that I’m always working hard to communicate to my competing athletes. The smart development of strength speeds up the physical learning process in an athlete’s respective sport. The physical learning process reaches a ceiling in sports specific skills, but the difference maker within every skilled athlete is the physical learning process of actually working on becoming a better athlete! This is the only difference.
Becoming a better athlete means that you need to stop gazing upon the same wall. A sea of health club machines, a lack of movement, and a lack of knowledge based training is only giving you shadows on a wall my friend. It’s time you came out of the cave!
If you need to be drug out by the hair into the world then make sure you start by getting your very own copy of my Brandon Richey’s Unconventional Conventional Method Of Strength ebook right here:
Also please feel free to leave your questions and comments in the box below this article. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend.