Facts vs Narrative – Reality Check

Did the title get your attention?  If so, are you one of those people who, if someone doesn’t agree with you, you bludgeon them with your thoughts and feelings and when they provide facts or logic and still don’t agree, you call them names and try to have them “cancelled”?  You’re one who expounds on the merits of “enlightenment” and the free exchange of ideas… as long as it’s your idea or an idea you agree with.  Well, if you are that type of person, I am incredibly sorry.  Not just because you are the worst kind of person and probably suck at paintball but probably need to hear this month’s topic more than most.  I can’t respect you.  However, you will truly be missed (no, not really). You can show your candy ass to the door.  Oh, I forgot to mention this will not be a political post.

Now – for those of you who are genuinely interested in hearing different ideas, exchanging ideas, open to dialogue, etc. – hang around a bit, pull up a chair.  If this wasn’t a blog and you were near, I would offer you a beverage and we could exchange ideas maturely and rationally.

Facts dont care

Time for another exciting episode of “Reality Check”!  This particular episode is brought to you by casual conversations had while I was hanging out at my old stomping ground/paintball field and getting some much needed gun time.  Then, I noticed one or two social media announcements that drew my attention and finally augmented by a couple of phone conversations.

First, let’s establish an irrefutable truth… facts and narrative are two completely separate things no matter how someone wants to twist and turn them.  Pesky little details like facts are so burdensome these days especially when they don’t match or align with whatever someone wants their narrative to be.  This is why you see so many people dismissing them and surrendering to emotion.  Inconvenient, I know…

I have seen and heard many delusions of grandeur as of late.  Whereas, it is important to dream and even more important to set goals to reach that dream, we must recognize what the path to these goals and dreams entails.  I love the underdog who knows in their gut it is all attainable.  And for a choice few, it certainly is! It’s almost as if it were destined and I love it when I witness it.  But what happens prior to these events is the real key takeaway.  What went into obtaining that dream…

What I will see occasionally is a new paintball team who is absolutely addicted to the sport.  They love the game, they love hanging out with each other, and they love the competitive environment.  They get a small taste of success, whether it is winning a couple local tournaments or doing well against another local team who is ranked higher and then BAM! That love becomes rabid (this is good) and now they are ready to take on the world.  But more often than not, these dreams of being a successful team soon turn into a crash and burn experience.  Several factors lend itself to this scenario of course but the number one culprit is this – it’s HARD WORK creating a winning paintball team!  I have seen and heard D2 teams talk about how they will eventually go pro (admirable) or that a D4 team will be semi pro within 2 years… wait… what?  Big difference there hoss… let’s back up a bit.

Getting on the box and putting in the work in 93 degree weather with 75% humidity.  Fun!

First, understand that one of the biggest reasons most teams don’t set out to achieve a big dream or a huge goal is that they think they first need to develop a comprehensive plan, one that details every step, every goal is identified, and that all these things will ensure success.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  *Side note – those teams that have no plan?  yeah, that doesn’t work out well either.

Look – plans are never perfect.  Occasionally they will appear that way but usually only in hindsight since no one really realized it at the time.

And when a team doesn’t have that kind of plan—because creating that kind of plan is basically impossible—they do one of two things – they hesitate and never really start or they get BIG ideas… ridiculous ideas… ideas that make most experienced teams and players think, “Oof.”

Too many teams need to see an end before they see a beginning.  And this is troublesome for most and they don’t even realize it.

Many teams, when they find a little success, will usually establish the thought that, what they did before will keep them successful.  This is partially true.  That will last for a bit but, eventually you have to increase/expand or better evolve certain factors.  There has to be that force multiplier that can keep you on top.  You have to start trying things… lots of things… lots of different things.  Some will work, some won’t.  Sometimes you will create new and exciting processes that really advance the team’s capabilities.  The key is learning from those that don’t work just as much as those that do.


Hold up!  Go back and read that last sentence again.

And again.

Recognize that those first steps are just that and that there are many more to come.  You have to keep moving forward.  And recognize that, not everyone is going to make it…

Know that you will learn (hopefully) how to react and how to respond to new (and old) challenges. Trust that you will become a little wiser for the experience. Trust that you’ll grow more skilled and more experienced the more you try.  At least, you should.  I will not say that I haven’t seen those who never seem to learn.  But ultimately that comes down to them. But also trust in the fact that, sometimes, its going to take an incredible resource, a commodity that is precious to many, myself included.

It’s called time.

Try enough things, learn from every success and every setback, and in time you’ll have some of the skills, knowledge, and experience you need to create consistency.  It won’t be perfect.  It never is.  By the way, that is not meant to deter you… that is meant to advise you that it will be difficult.  But who doesn’t enjoy a good challenge right?

You can never guarantee that you will always succeed. But when you never bet on yourself and never try something new, you can definitely guarantee that you will never succeed.

Again, what most don’t realize is what a successful paintball team entails.  First, let’s define “success” because this will ultimately decide how much energy will be required to create it.  No, I am not saying you shouldn’t give 150% no matter the endeavor… what I am saying is what will be required in most instances to meet a specific level of success.  That’s the point of this blog post… reality.  If you want to create a competitive local D4 team, this is much more attainable then a competitive NATIONAL D4 team.  Everyone understand?  We need to set parameters.  How many times have you heard me write or talk about setting goals?  This is no different.  And let’s not forget the importance of playing at the appropriate level (so many teams are in a rush to meet a “status” and end up playing in the wrong division.  Let’s face it, anyone can play above their division if they are willing to pay the entry… but not everyone can be competitive there.) Let’s manage expectations though shall we?


After we set a goal, we need to respect and understand what it will take to meet that goal.  There will be difficulty in reaching whatever level of success you seek.  But recognize right now that it will take a lot of work to meet even the most nominal amount of success in paintball.  Why?  The factors are many and we won’t delve into all that this time around.  Instead, let’s talk about what will keep you from meeting success.

Let’s talk excuses.

Here are Zen’s top 4 excuses why teams fail before they start:

  1. No time to practice – okay… make the time! But I work on weekends! Okay, find a different sport.  See how easy that was?  Understand that if EVERYONE on your team cannot commit the time to practice, there is no purpose IF YOU WISH TO BE CONSISTENTLY SUCCESSFUL.  If you want to goof off and have fun – That is perfectly fine!  Do it!  If you want to goof off, have fun, and win – might I suggest recruiting highly experienced friends and writing some checks.
  2. No money – once again, like dipping your little toe into golf, you chose the wrong sport. This one is actually easier than most people think. Options include pooling money, putting money aside little by little until you have a decent amount of disposable income to throw around, selling items you don’t use or want anymore, etc.  We all put money where we want to.  Right now, I am putting it into my house.  It would be easy for me to buy a plane ticket, paint, hotel and food to go play these 10 man events I am dying to play… but I have some priorities.  If a winning paintball team is important to you… you’ll find a way (hopefully legally).
  3. Weather – “Not feeling it today… it’s raining.” Get your pansy ass out on the field!  But my equipment, my big toe, it’s hot, it’s wet, I have a rash, my hair, I have to wear a mask and can’t breathe… you little whiner.  You think it doesn’t rain at paintball events?  You think it doesn’t get hot at paintball events?  You think there aren’t weather elements of some kind at most events?  Well you might as well get used to playing in it because you’re eventually going to see it.
  4. “I’m already good at that.” (face palm) – this one is frightening.  It’s like a person who gets a concealed carry permit, buys a gun, and then says “I’m ready to defend myself.”  No you’re not!  You have to train!  You have to put in the time.  I promise you the players in this sport that you admire put in the time.  If you want to mimic that then you have to drill the fundamentals every opportunity you get as well as train other aspects of the game both individually and as a team.


So – what have we learned (if we aren’t too busy looking for a safe space or contacting Zuckerberg to have me cancelled because you don’t agree with my thoughts).  We’ve learned that:

Creating a team that has a roster full of relatively athletic injury free fellows who all like or at least tolerate each other, who all have disposable income capable of sustaining a practice and tournament regimen, who all have the time to commit to most if not every weekend for the season (and off season), who all have the capacity to learn, who all have the attitude and willpower that it will take to maintain a culture of seeking success, who don’t complain about the weather, who recognize all the work it will take…

… is hard, difficult, and frustrating.

But it’s not impossible.

Recognize that it will take you many moons to get where you want to be when you start.  Strap in for one helluva ride.  To those of you who meet your goal – I salute you.  To those of you who don’t respect the work and commitment and think it’s easy – I am that parent who is watching the child about to make a mistake that will forever imprint on them “That was dumb.”
Be water my friends.

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