November 15, 2005

Ego- Underestimating Your Opponent

Not unlike many people I have a healthy ego. Throughout my life I have usually found that I am among the smarter, better educated, better read and more athletic group.

When I was younger I allowed my ego to cloud my sense of reality and it prevented me from recognizing that there were always people who were smarter, faster, stronger etc. It used to really bother me. I readily admit to being frustrated at times by this, but I learned how to place it all in context.

What I mean is that I learned that there were some very basic aspects of life that made all the difference.
  1. Talent is important but in many situations it cannot replace hard work and effort, especially in a team setting. Work together and work hard and you can make up the difference.
  2. The will to win is another variable that you can use to overcome adversity. It works in conjunction with hard work, for that matter it probably is the key element. If you have a strong will and you are willing to do what it takes you can compensate for a lack of talent.
Here is my real life example. I play basketball two to three days a week. I am rarely the most talented player on the court. In fact frequently there are several players who from a talent perspective are far superior to me, but I can often make it up by being willing to do the grunt work.

I dive for loose balls, play very tenacious defense and I chase every rebound.

In between this I often lavishly praise the skills of the man I am guarding. All too often he stops focusing on what he is doing and allows me to distract him and that is the very reason I keep talking. I want him to stop paying attention. I want him to be irritated so that he tries to embarrass me. I want him to get upset so that he stops utilizing his teammates. Once that happens victory is a step away.

What I really learned is this. I don't have to be the smartest. I don't have to be the strongest and I don't have to be the best in everything. What I have to be is accepting of my limitations, aware of my strengths and conscious of how to leverage those items so that I can achieve my goals.

There are two other key components to this formula.
  1. Do not assume that your opponent is too dumb, too stupid or too inexperienced to beat you. Don't let an overgrown ego make you complacent. Always remember that it is often better to be lucky than to be talented.
  2. Do not let your ego prevent you from learning from the success of those around you. There is little reason to reinvent the wheel. Take his success and figure out how to adapt and adopt his methods.
Clearly none of this is foolproof. Life is full of surprises and you cannot always be prepared for everything but you can always be prepared to act and not react. That is a lesson that my children will hear for the rest of their lives.

It is easy to react. When something hurts you it is easy to respond by lashing out and sometimes there is a time and place for that. But never forget that sometimes the best reaction is to take a deep breath and look around. I don't like being patient but I have found that for somethings I have an infinite amount.

And I have a very long memory.

2 comments:

Gavriel said...

I tried the "lavishly praise your opponent" strategy but it didn't work for me. My lavishly praised opponent kept driving past me while I was praising him. Very rude. I think I'll stick to kicking them in the knees.

Nice insights -- and that's not just lavish praise in the grand game of competitive blogging, I really mean it.

Jack's Shack said...

Kicking them in the knees has its benefits, so does playing like Stockton. It is amazing what grabbing, holding and elbowing does.

But the thing that really works for me is I set a very nasty screen and I do an exceptional job of running through them.

There is only so many times that people want to get hit. After a while they have a tendency to just give in.

Effort makes the difference.

Thanks for stopping by.