The Myth of ‘Just do it’: Thought and Effort in Expert Action preface

CHAPTER 2: Just do what? Distinctions, Differences and a Matter of Emphasis

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CHAPTER 2: Just do what? Distinctions, Differences and a Matter of Emphasis
[look up this quote:]”through practice, teaching, reflection, success, failure, furtherance and resistance, and again and again reflection”

Goethe; Letters quoted in whyte

Maybe a quote abt think to win?
The player without a strategy on the tennis court is like a ship without a rudder.

It can still move, but it will take dumb luck to get where it wants to go.

Pepperdine tennis coach and former Davis Cup competitor Allen Fox (1993, p.9)

Presumably when Nike used the phrase “just do it” in their advertising campaign, it was intended to mean something like “Stop procrastinating, get off your posterior, and get the job done.” Interpreted as such, I’m in favor of “just do it.” However, the sense of “just do it” I question is the idea that expert action, at its best, proceeds without a significant amount of thought, attention, or effort, or as the blues and rock musician Steve Miller purportedly would say, “when you’re thinking, you’re stinking.”24 As we saw in the last chapter, this view is embraced in various forms by philosophers, psychologists, journalists and others. And it is this view that I think is a myth.

To be sure, Nike’s “just do it” slogan also tells us that certain mental processes are detrimental to expert performance, for it tells us that if we procrastinate by thinking about all the other things we should be doing rather than going to the gym, our muscles will not get any stronger. However, such a view is consistent with the mind being very present once you step on the treadmill. The presence of mind in expert action is my concern, and in this chapter I aim to formulate in a more precise way what this concern is.

The phrase “when you’re thinking, you’re stinking” might seem to proclaim that experts never think, or at least ought never to do so. However, most advocates of what I’m referring to as the “just-do-it principle” allow that thought is sometimes useful for experts. For example, both the psychologist Sian Beilock (2010), who holds that focusing on or monitoring the details of movement interferes with performance, and the philosophers Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly (2011a), who hold that the best expert actions are in some sense drawn out of the expert, accept that thinking might occur when something goes wrong—e.g., when the floor is unusually slippery and a dancer might need to focus on her foot placement, or, as Dreyfus (2013) sees it, when a chess player’s intuitions fail to identify the right move. In such cases, these just-do-it apostles say that experts will need to think. So even according to just-do-it proponents, experts sometimes think. Now, as I claim that sometimes expert performance proceeds at least without the expert being consciously aware of thought, and that expert action requires a large repertory of automatic action, which seems to bypass any thought processes at all, one might wonder: Wherein lies the difference between my view and the view I call a myth? This, too, is a question I shall endeavor to answer.

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