November 4th, 2008
Last week, my brother-in-law read the Chinese news, then turned to me and said:
“The news says that Obama will be the next U.S. president.”
“Bu yao shuo tai zao le,” I said, repeating a Chinese phrase often used whenever you want to praise someone you’ve just met – or whenever you think victory is assured.
It means: “Don’t say too early.”
In martial arts and sports, you learn the value of confidence. At other times, you learn the importance of never being over-confident. You learn to “act as if” – but to be very careful about appearing to step over the line. If you lack confidence you get nowhere. If you have too much, it can act like a curse.
There’s a balancing act going on at all times. Too much fear, not good. A little fear, probably a good idea.
Too much confidence – not good. Too little confidence, not good either.
When I was at the University of Iowa, early on I thought that being a member of the national championship team, coached by the legendary Olympic gold medalist, Dan Gable, was all I needed to have an edge over my opponent. I quickly discovered that, whether it gave me an edge or not – I better be prepared for a major battle every time I took to the mat. Many competitors want to beat your worse for no other reason than the fact that you are on the championship team.
I’ll never forget when Oklahoma was ranked number one and supposed to run away with the national title. Gables’ response to the reporters writing such things was brilliant. He played along with them. He wanted the Sooners to feel the pressure of being expected to win. He wanted the Hawkeyes to feel like the under-dogs because it would make them even hungrier for victory.
The strategy worked. Oklahoma folded at the last minute – when it counted most.
“Never make assumptions,” a coach at Iowa once told me. “And do you want to know why,” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Because assumption is the MOTHER of all screw-ups.”
This morning Fan gave me the most recent news.
“The news now says McCain might win,” he laughed.
“Might,” I said. “We’ll see very soon. There may be some big surprises.”
So here we are on Decision Day – and I get to watch the action from a different world.
It’s great to live in a country in which we have the freedom to vote – to make decisions on our future.
Just never lose sight of the fact that the most important vote you will ever cast is the one in which you vote for YOURSELF.
Not only that, but the most important decision you will ever make is the decision to be successful no matter what. To make a decision to make no excuses for failure; to never believe that someone else is going to do it for you.
No one is coming to your rescue but YOU. You are the one who decides whether you’ll move forward. And you are the one who will decide whether you’ll succeed in good times or in bad.
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