On Figuring

chris field
7 min readOct 13, 2021
Photo by kevin turcios / Unsplash

My dog keeps looking at me like I have all the answers, like I am about to do something incredible, and she’s going to be there for it. I’m eating apple slices. There’s no caramel, no peanut butter. I don’t even think I have salt. It’s just an apple, dog. Go lay down.

I remember coaching rugby practices and the team asking, “Hey coach, what’s next?” and I’d flip through my clipboard to find the perfect drill, but I’d have no idea. I couldn’t even read most of my handwritten notes. In the end, I would pick something legible and bark out instructions. It works if you follow everything up with “hustle, hustle!” Ball handling or fitness sprints or tackle drills, and they all have their place in the rotation. But there was never a Tuesday-is-leg-day strategy. An exception is if it was raining; rain days were always tackle drills. Tackling in the mud has a charm. I did not know what I was doing, but the team hung in there with me. We were all learning together and the team was forgiving.

Here’s a surprise: I, a writer, never had a coherent plan at any point in life. I bounced around, gathering random skills and bits of information. There were always the general rules to follow, you know: be kind. Share. Don’t get too proud. Breathe before answering. But for the other stuff, it all seemed illegible to me, just like my coaching notes. Make six figures. Be the boss. Enforce the laws. I simply did not have…