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The lesson Omaha John Shuput taught me in the little bar in South Carolina.

Posted 11-19-2012 at 10:40 PM by CJ Wiley
Updated 11-02-2013 at 11:51 PM by CJ Wiley

I remember when, at the age of 19, "Omaha John" and I were touring around on a road trip and ended up in a small bar in South Carolina. The owner of the bar was a BIG gambler and would take the 5 and the break from anyone playing on the bar table with the Big Cue Ball.

We had been going through a tough time and I was "breaking even" with everyone. Usually I would get ahead, then start "letting up," they would come back, "get even" and quit. This was getting annoying and I was beginning to question if I had enough "heart," to be a champion player.

This was a big thing in the gambling days, if you have the heart to close someone out. To put them away. And it was happening again, I had got up over 2k for $200 a game and now we raised it to $300. a game and the guy beat me 7 IN A ROW and we were just $100. winner.

Omaha John came up to me and said "if you're ever going to be a great road player you better do it now. I'm not out here "for my health," I have a wife and kid at home and I have to win, breaking even is for "suckers!"

He was serious, so, standing my cue against a near by stool, I stopped playing and went to the bathroom - it was "now or never," I thought, looking in the mirror, starring straight into my own eyes - "do you really want to be a pool player, do you really have what it takes?" I hesitated slightly, waiting for the answer to come from my "Inner Self"..... not the answer I wanted to hear, I HAD to know the truth....I needed to know and my life would change from that moment.

Finally the answer had come - I knew in my "heart of hearts" that the moment had arrived. "The Moment of Truth," I couldn't be a sucker, "stuck" at my current level, struggling to break even and making up excuses.

There was only one choice - to become a winner and break out of that "victim level" and do whatever it would take to learn the Truth about pool and what it takes to be the best.

I made that decision right then because I had to. And it's a decision that continues because life's much more about the "journey," than the "destination." Life is the best teacher, and at that moment my life was the game and for an instant they melded into One...The Game is the Teacher!

Often times we are held back because we don't need to win, we don't have to get better. I didn't have the luxury that day and I thank Omaha John for putting me in a situation where I had to be honest with myself. No one else matters when you're trying to get to the "next level,"{in life} it's all about ourselves.... it's about looking ourselves in the mirror and "real eyesing" that the answer we've been searching for is not outside, it's inside ourselves.

I went back out there and was like an entirely different person. John had been telling me to stop spinning my ball and playing low percentage shots....so I did. Others had made comments about my game that I had ignored because of my ego, so I incorporated those suggestions too - my perception had changed, the Game had given me a vital spiritual experience.

From that point I beat the guy out of over 8K and he looked like he had been drained of all his energy. I didn't care what it took I made myself shoot the correct shot, in the right way and forgot forever my childish reasons for not playing the Game correctly. To be a Champion at anything we must keep doing "the next right thing," whether we like it or not.

Looking back I can't help but think the chains of mediocrity had been broken, and I had started to become a player. From that moment on I had a "6th Sense" about pool and knew what I HAD to practice to improve and what I needed to ignore. "The chain breaks at it's weakest link" and that became the motto of my practice routines.


I'll always remember that lesson Omaha John Shuput and the Game taught me in that bar in South Carolina.... and the mirror that reflected what I needed to have "eyes that could see my self". 'The Game is the Inner Teacher' www.cjwiley.com
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