Sunday, January 25, 2009


I was watching a little of the television broadcast of the Australian Open last night and saw an interview with world #1 Jelena Jankovic, who had just lost. Jankovic was very courteous, giving a great deal of credit to her opponent. Seeing the interview made me think of what I had read of Jankovic--that she is extremely courteous, and that she also might not be quite the competitor that the really top players are--that what keeps her from really dominating is her head. By contrast Serena Williams is known for being ungenerous to her opponents in losses--she has the reputation for blaming a loss on her own play and not giving credit to her opponent.

Along these lines I was thinking about the figure-ground reversal I had recently discussed and the general success that we can create in our own lives.

Serena Williams is known for her competitive will--for her ability to play even better when the competitive stakes grow, and for her unwillingness to lose. How strongly is that competitive will related to her belief that it is her play that determines a win or loss? Is it easier to rally against an opponent if you think "wow, s/he's really good, maybe better than me" or "well, s/he's good, but if I were playing my game, s/he wouldn't have a chance"? It seems to me that one is much more likely to succeed if one believes that one can exert one's will to succeed.

When we view our projects, when we get discouraged, is that not a type of perspective in which we are surrendering our power?

If Edison was right in suggesting that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, doesn't this imply that we have to continue to believe in the validity of the inspiration through extensive struggles? We have to believe that the power to succeed lies in us.

Or, perhaps, we need to act on the premise that the power to succeed lies in us. Many writers struggle with believing that their writing is good enough--the emotion of belief may be hard to create, but we can still logically think through: "what would I do if I believed that I had the ability to finish?"

The character of plans made by one who is confident are radically different than the plans made by one who is expecting defeat. Different plans lead to different results. In addition to the emotional boost that accompanies confidence is also the difference in plans. I wonder whether the plans of the optimist might be more focused on the strengths of the individual, and thus will focus attention on the places where the richest opportunities are to be found?
How much does the pessimist look at weaknesses and thus make plans that fail to take advantage of places where the strengths lie?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is an incredible bit of advice.