I realize “Karen and the Dragon” may seem a strange name for a blog. I regret the story behind the name is probably no less peculiar. Truth be told, there are actually two (and maybe even three) meanings behind “K+D”.
First, “Karen” and “the Dragon” are distinct but deeply-rooted, music-related “things” I fell for passionately and obsessively when I was young. In an effort to avoid complete embarrassment on the world wide web, I will not likely divulge the entire dorky truth behind this side of the name. But, who knows, Friend Me on Facebook and you might just be able to put it together.
Second, “Karen and the Dragon” was the title of a presentation I gave at the 2010 National Coaches Conference in Savannah, GA. My talk was based on the aforementioned passions and the connections between effortful practice and the obsessive pursuit of excellence.
It was a very tough talk for me to pull together and I really struggled with it. And, truth be told, I don’t really know that I pulled it off. In fact, I think it was probably pretty awful by my standards. But, as I have continued to reflect on what I was trying to do and how I had gone about it, I realized the presentation itself represented an important milestone in my own professional development. Perhaps I had failed in the eyes of my audience and against my own standards. To some, perhaps miserably so. But, I had tried to pull together a complex and nuanced story that represented, in my mind at least, a fundamental truth and something that would be of value to the coaches with whom I was speaking. I have realized the process itself was more valuable to me than the message I was trying to convey (I think Scott Berkun would be proud).
I’ll add that the third association of the name might just come from Andre Agassi’s biography, “Open“. I was drawn to his story and it’s a terrific read. But, I think I laughed, knowingly and aloud, upon reading how his father would terrorize him by pitting him against an evil, homemade monstrosity of an opponent which rocketed fuzzy yellow fire balls which Andre had nicknamed “The Dragon”. Here’s an excerpt:
“At the moment my hatred for tennis is focused on the dragon, a ball machine modified by my fire-belching father. Midnight black, set on big rubber wheels, the word PRINCE painted in white block letters along its base, the dragon looks at first glance like the ball machine at every country club in America, but it’s actually a living, breathing creature straight out of my comic books. The dragon has a brain, a will, a black heart—and a horrifying voice. Sucking another ball into its belly, the dragon makes a series of sickening sounds. As pressure builds inside its throat, it groans. As the ball rises slowly to its mouth, it shrieks. For a moment the dragon sounds almost silly, like the fudge machine swallowing Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. But when the dragon takes dead aim at me and fires a ball 110 miles an hour, the sound it makes is a bloodcurdling roar. I flinch every time.
My father has deliberately made the dragon fearsome. He’s given it an extra-long neck of aluminum tubing, and a narrow aluminum head, which recoils like a whip every time the dragon fires. He’s also set the dragon on a base several feet high, and moved it flush against the net, so the dragon towers above me. At seven years old I’m small for my age. (I look smaller because of my constant wince and the bimonthly bowl haircuts my father gives me.) But when standing before the dragon, I look tiny. Feel tiny. Helpless. My father wants the dragon to tower over me not simply because it commands my attention and respect. He wants the balls that shoot from the dragon’s mouth to land at my feet as if dropped from an airplane.“
Agassi, Andre (2009-12-24). Open (p. 26). Vintage. Kindle Edition.
To me, writing for K+D has been a bit of an evil, self-made monster which has terrorized me in different ways:
- Do I really have anything interesting to say? (I hope so)
- Will anyone ever read this? (I hope so)
- Will people think I’m an idiot? (I hope not)
- Will people think I’m doing this as some grand self-promotion? (I hope not)
Getting started has taken over a year. But, here I am. The truth is, K+D is simply about trying to stay connected to things I am passionate about and in deeply exploring the perceptions and truths about human performance. That’s all.
So, for now, Karen and the Dragon it is.