Catching Wisdom: Pokémon Lessons

I’m glad that I enjoy things as much as I do. There are two things that I love as an adult that are frequently enjoyed by children: learning and Pokémon. The thing is, whenever I learn something new my brain can’t help but apply it to Pokémon.

I recently listened to a business audiobook. I was consumed with one of the concepts in the book and how it applied to Pokémon. They talked about the hedgehog versus the fox. The former is of a single mind, and the latter is essentially scatterbrained. The book argued that the hedgehog is the one who can enjoy great success, while the fox won’t ever get there despite his many efforts.


I don’t have enough business experience to reject or accept their argument for corporations. I’ve been playing Pokémon with great intensity since 1998 and I’m really torn on their conclusion. Perhaps most importantly, my reaction is: it depends. The part that bothers me isn’t that it depends, but short of results-oriented-thinking, I can’t tell what it depends on.

I caught an interview of the competitive eating champion, Takeru “Kobi” Kobayashi. Plenty of his tips applied to me! Why was I not listening to more champions and what they did to soak up tips?

So all of the good advice from experts ever is now converting itself into tips about what I do. Perhaps I don’t agree with Bob Ross that our mistakes in Pokémon are happy little accidents, but overall his attitude is good for me to have in my toolbox. Mr. Rogers gave me legitimate insights on how to interact with the world, and even how to teach others.

Pokémon is this weird thing for me. It’s competitive and it’s community. It involves my closest friends and total strangers. There is a lot to be said about effort, commitment, practice, and flexibility. The game itself is old enough at this point that it even has people who grew up with it and have their own success stories.

All this being said, I’ve come up with a list of 11 real life people who would be great Pokémon trainers, and snippets from them that make it clearly so (perhaps in no particular order):

Takeru “Kobi” Kobayashi:

“I just want to compete and do what I love.”

Fred Rogers:

“I think of discipline as the continual everyday process of helping a child learn self-discipline.”

James C. Collins:

“Faith in the endgame helps you live through the months or years of buildup.”

Phil Knight:

“It’s alright to be Goliath but always act like David.”

Albert Einstein:

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Bob Ross:

“We don’t make mistakes. Just happy accidents.”

J.K. Rowling:

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.”

Pablo Picasso:

“Action is the foundational key to all success.”

Serena Williams:

“Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.”

Stephen Colbert:

“I’m more comfortable improvising. If I have just two or three ideas and I know how the character feels, what the character wants, everything in between is like trapeze work.”

Ronda Rousey:

“The Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I was lucky enough to go twice, but most people only get one chance. And in judo you can train your whole life and it’ll come down to a split second: You can lose everything or win anything.”

True Form

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