Friday, February 17, 2006

Three more glimpses of confidence in action...

A few shining Olympic moments, which I offer without further comment.

"I'm going to slip in under the radar. I know I'm ready. I know I'm trained... I have what it takes to get it done."
--U.S. figure skater Evan Lysacek, just hours before finishing out of the medals in the short program.

"I still think I'm the guy to beat. You may beat me once, but you're not going to beat me every time out..."
--U.S. skier Bode Miller, a day after finishing out of the running in his first Olympic event, and a day before being disqualified for missing a gate on his second event.*

"I know for me personally, my belief in myself is what carries me through. All of us feel that way. That's why I feel we're going to take the event."
--U.S. speed skater Chad Hedrick, the day before an unheralded Italian team shocked Hedrick and his teammates by besting them in a new Olympic speed-skating event, the 3,200-meter pursuit.

* After the second debacle, Miller would revise his thinking. "I'm not the one talking about winning Gold medals," he sniffed. "I just came here to have a good time..."

UPDATE, 7:30 p.m. ET. File this under "oops"? You may recall Lindsey Jacobellis as the pixie-faced star of those alpine-themed, feel-good VISA commercials in the months leading up to the Olympics. Tonight comes word that Ms. Jacobellis, the unquestioned star of women's snowboarding, has cost herself (and, I might add, the U.S.) a cinch gold medal by falling down after trying a show-off stunt near the very end of the inaugural running of the women's Olympic snowboard-cross. "Alone in the clear," reads AP coverage of the event, "Lindsey Jacobellis could have practically crawled to the finish line and won..." Her teammates concede that Jacobellis was "hot-dogging it" a little bit. Now correct me if I'm wrong...but isn't "hot-dogging" something that's typically done by people with an abundance of self-confidence? So could this be viewed as a perfect example of how confidence can produce failure?


Two Write Hands said...

Hmm...this makes me wonder how successful the insecure Olympians have been.

Steve Salerno said...

It's an intriguing point, MS...though I don't really think any highly competitive athlete goes into competition expecting to lose! My point, really, is that based on everything I've observed about sports through the years, there is probably very little--if any--true correlation between state of mind (going in) and outcome. Now, this may be less true in certain sports--I'm thinking boxing, say. But in many sports, a "positive mental attitude" has no bearing on outcome--and in fact, as I point out in my book, there are many sports where it's entirely possible to be TOO up, such that all that adrenaline plays havoc with your timing and finer muscle movements. (And of course, what will athletes often say when they lose to someone they didn't expect to lose to? They were "overconfident"!)

Anonymous said...

I wonder how attitude affects people who compete in mental sports like chess, or, say, classical musicians...

Anonymous said...

Nothing beats the quote from Johnny Weir after his loss: "I didn't feel my inner peace. I didn't feel like my aura was white. My biorhythms were off. I was black inside." Bummer!

Anonymous said...

Confidence -- in the over abundance -- seems to also play havoc with college students too. Just the other day I was advising one of my students who hadn't studied for a major test. He said, "I know the information, I don't need to study, it's all about my mindset."

I replied, "let me know how that goes."

UPDATE: Feb. 20. Showing up at my office door, the long-faced student said, "I don't understand, I bombed my test."

I had mixed feelings for the guy. At first I felt bad, but realized feeling bad for him was really me remembering I was once like him.

To turn it into a SHAM-busting moment, I asked what he learned.

Sadly not much. He said, "I just gotta have a better game face."

I wished him well and went to a meeting.