The Tony Hawk story

Every few weeks, Morgan Housel shares stories on his blog. I have no idea where he sources them from. But, I’m always impressed by how good they are. Today’s post had a collection of good ones – below is my favorite.

Skateboarder Tony Hawk landed a 900 – two and a half spins – at the 1999 X Games. It was the biggest achievement the sport had ever seen, the equivalent of the four-minute mile.

It catapulted Hawk into legend status. His video game came out a year later and sold 30 million copies. Six Flags named a rollercoaster after him.

But here’s the craziest part of this story: fifteen years later, an eight-year-old landed a 900.

Hawk was also the first person to land a 720 (two spins) – a feat later accomplished by a second-grader.

A lot of sports work like that. One person raises the bar over what previously seemed impossible, and that becomes the baseline for a new generation to build upon.

Just qualifying for the Boston Marathon requires a time that, 100 years ago, would put you within nine minutes of a world record.

A gold-medal gymnast 70 years ago would not make the cut in a local competition today.

Same with technology, business, and investment knowledge. One generation builds on the impossible feats of the previous one. It’s like compound interest.

A fifth-grader recently landed a 1080 – three spins, unthinkable in Hawk’s day. Asked what he thought of the achievement, Hawk replied: “It represents everything I love about skateboarding: constant evolution.”

Which is a statement you can apply to just about any field.

It is also a statement we can apply to ourselves.

How much are we evolving everyday?