“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
At last year’s World Series Of Poker, I was at dinner with Alex Fitzgerald, Paul Varano and Faraz Jaka. As I recall, there were one or two good cashes, but basically it seemed they were getting their asses handed to them. As a psychological ploy and conversational gambit over the pasta, I asked a question. Something like “If you don’t finish first, can you still consider yourself a winner?” The looks they gave me, you’d think I farted noisily at a funeral service.
No, no way, never…about summed up the prevailing opinion. I thought of that conversation as I watched Alex and Jaka not win at this year’s PCA Main Event. I railed the tournament for many more hours than I really wanted to, but I was so praying for victory. Which eluded both of them.
It’s been said you learn more from failure than success. But that is so often a painful education. Coincidentally, I have been studying failure and pain simultaneously. Seems the way most people deal with pain is ignore it or adapt to it. (For purposes of this discussion, we will ignore the current Oxycodone epidemic.)
The following wisdom (not verbatim) is borrowed from Marc De Bruin.
You set your outcome/goal, as that is where you would ideally like to end up. You are feeling good about that outcome. You are NOT focused on the outcome too much (as in: being emotionally attached to it), but MORE focused on feeling good during the process . In that case, not only will you feel good pretty much all the time; your goals will be achieved as well. You have taken away your focus FROM the destination and put it ON the journey towards it.
In the extreme case your goals do not come true the way (or in the time frame) you had envisioned, you will have at least felt good along the way, and will now also be in a place where revised goals can be set, without you getting all worked up over not achieving the initial ones.
A pokerista needs to learn to avoid being too focused on each individual piece of contrast (loss/failure) and appreciate each individual piece of positive expectation which moves him towards his outcome. Stay focused on that outcome and work towards it. The whole idea is to feel you ARE working towards it, regardless of whatever happens in the interim. THAT will make “happier” (= positive expectation) along the way, which will improve the quality of both your play and your life and thus the quality of your results.
If you can live this way, and work your business this way, life becomes effortless, and an enjoyable ride. Each destination is merely a “transit stop” towards the next journey. There often is talk about “enjoying the journey” in personal and professional development; often, it sounds very cheesy. Applied the right way, it is THE WAY to feelings of success, happiness and achievement. There is never a final destination; each destination opens up more contrast and desires, and therefore more journeys; just think about your last new car: as soon as you have it, you start thinking about the NEXT one -at least I do. That means that you’d better start enjoying the journey, as there is nothing BUT the journey. As I have heard it said: you can never “get there” and you can never “get it done”. Might as well enjoy the ride.
Poker is a metaphor for life, we are told. Trust me: there is little in poker which can prepare you for some of the defeats you may face in life. You get knocked down, you get back up. Getting back up is victory.
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