The Mental Aspect of Winning

Tyson Gay of the U.S. won the 100 meters at the world track and field championships earlier this week. He finished in a blazing 9.85 seconds missing the world record by .08 seconds. It took longer than .08 seconds to read “.08 seconds”. One of the people he beat was Asafa Powell of Jamaica, the current world record holder. Powell was the betting favorite to win the race. He led for the first 80 meters.

Both of these men have the talent and physical tools to win. It was what was inside their heads and hearts that distinguished them in this race, not the strength in their legs. 

It was Gay who proved more adept at fighting off the nerves. “I was nervous but I spoke to my mother and she helped me calm down,” he said. (Presumably before and not during the race.)

“I tightened up. I panicked. I lost it,” Powell said.  “I felt Tyson coming on my shoulder and I panicked. I don’t normally do it but I panicked and Tyson got the better of me. I knew I was in great shape and ready to go but I made a huge mistake in the final.” (I think he panicked.)

There is a minute difference between a world championship and another disappointing finish. The mental aspect makes the difference in all parts of life. Attitude, being able to deal with pressure, and keeping your cool are often what make a person successful.

I find it particularly fascinating when the mind impacts what is often thought of as a purely physical act. Such as running unbelievably fast. Congratulations Tyson!

btw. I love track. I ran track in high school until my parents subtly pointed out that I either needed to be good enough for a track scholarship or I may want to get a job to help pay for college. I consulted the stopwatch and had a job within a week.

A quick post script. This morning Tyson won the 200 meter race in 19.76 seconds, a record time for the world championships. He is only the third person to win the sprint double in the history of the world championships.


Count Your Blessings; Say Your Prayers

Some more perspective for anyone having an irritating day and complaining about it.

I have a friend who has had a difficult pregnancy. She gave birth to a son, her first child last week. Brett came 14 weeks early and weighed 2 pounds. I can eat sandwiches bigger than that. He will be in the hospital, if all goes well, for most of the 14 weeks he should have stayed inside his mom. Count your blessings.

Say your prayers. Let’s hope that this has a happy ending. Both Mother and Father are good people. Having a premature baby is dramatically hard. I cannot imagine how my friend will go on with her life if this should take a turn for the worse.

No complaining about little things. Not today.

Sunday Night Musings

  1. I hope the weather on September 16, the day I go for 100 miles, is exactly like today. Sunny, low 70s and no breeze.
  2. I have ridden 65 miles twice now this summer. The fact that once I do that I will still have 35 to go is a bit daunting. I do, however, feel much more ready this year than last and I managed 85 last year. This will be the year.
  3. I have been one crabby dude lately.
  4. I am planning my first SCUBA trip in almost 3 years to happen sometime next spring. When I say that I am planning it, I mean that my buddy Harold is doing all the leg work. He is outstanding at that.
  5. The storms last week were wild. We got lucky and lost neither power nor trees. Trees were down all over the area. On my way home Thursday I had to drive through water that was over my tires. I am thankful my car did not stall.
  6. I haven’t been blogging as much lately. Don’t know why.
  7. After biking 65 miles I am wiped out for the day.
  8. I hope that no work emergency happens on September 17 so I can sleep the day after riding 100 miles.
  9. I love to talk about the century ride coming up because this much riding is one of the few things I do that not every one does. The exception is when I run into someone several years older who races bikes, runs marathons and completes the full Ironman competition (a 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile bike race and 26.2-mile run.  Competitors have 17 hours to finish the race).  Then I tend to be quiet about my biking.
  10. I would rather sleep in tomorrow than get up for work.

High Speed Internet, Low Speed Service

telephoneoperator.jpg Cable internet service is great– when it works. We periodically have problems that require calling Comcast’s service department. Unfortunately 2 out of 3 times they person answering the phone does not know what to do short of telling me to unplug my cable modem and reboot the computer.

Yesterday was a perfect example of incompetence. Actually it started Friday afternoon during the severe storms that hit the area. When launching the browser we got a message saying we needed to reinstall the Comcast software. A call Friday night led me to some guy who said this was an error and they were working on it. Nothing to do but wait.

The woman I spoke with Saturday morning said that there was a partial outage in my area and they were working on it. Surprisingly, I was still getting incoming email. The woman did not think that to be material. Though I was wondering how we had an incoming connection but no outgoing one.

Persevering, I tried again Saturday afternoon. Finally someone who knew what he was doing. He immediate said that just the fact that I had this message was a sign that the cable was working. He walked me through a few computer steps and amazingly I was back in business.

Happy and angry at the same time. We had not had usable internet service for over 24 hours. My wife had needed to check her work email and I had a blog to write. I thanked Comcast guy but insisted he send a message to the powers that be that they need to better train their telephone service reps. The first two should have known what to do.

I should have gotten his name so that I could have written an email to his boss… and to know who to ask for the next time something goes wrong.

More Words

I have been  gathering more words to share.  I prefer words that are rarely used, have a high sonic quality but are not– at least in my view– pretentious. Definitions courtesy of

Exogenous. originating from outside; derived externally

Endogenous. proceeding from within; derived internally

Multitudinous. comprising many items, parts, or elements

Peripatetic.  Walking about or from place to place; traveling on foot. Of or relating to the philosophy or teaching methods of Aristotle, who conducted discussions while walking about in the Lyceum of ancient Athens

Spate. a sudden, almost overwhelming, outpouring

Conurbation. A predominantly urban region including adjacent towns and suburbs; a metropolitan area.

I am always looking for more if you have some to share.

Trust Your Instincts

I prefer to analyze things.  Therefore I don’t often trust that little voice inside my head. Too bad. Alot of years of some great experiences have helped shape that little voice.

I was reminded of this recently when I let a significant business opportunity slip away.  I had what I thought was a good meeting with a CEO. My goal was to convince him that I was as good or better than the competitors of mine he was considering. As he walked me out he asked a question that was strange given the context of the meeting. Would I be the team lead if they hired my company? He knew that I was in his office because that was exactly what was contemplated.

Loud warning sirens began to go off in my head. Danger! Danger!  At that moment I should have asked for 5 more minutes since by asking the question it seemed that he may not be comfortable with me. Later I realized that his asking the question meant that I was still in the game. He could have not said anything. The bull should have been taken by the horns. Instead, I mumbled something and left. I did not get the work.

This actually happens to me less frequently in business situations than in the rest of my life because I trust my work instincts more than those honed in other social situations. 

Tusting my instincts. Another area for potential personal growth. Yeah.

Rich Man Poor Man

Is it O.K. to want to live a luxurious life?

I recently spent two days at the Four Seasons at a client’s expense.  At the Four Seasons, the rooms and common areas are beautiful. The staff attends to you regularly and warmly without being intrusive. Every time I left the hotel a limo was waiting for me.  The meals were excellent. 

This lifestyle draws me like the proverbial moth to the flame.  Yet at the same time it makes me uncomfortable.  Why do I get such strong, conflicting emotional reactions? 

I have spent the past several days trying to understand.

First of all, recognize that this set up was not done for me. This company had its board of directors in for meetings, one of which I attended. The first class treatment was for them. The nature of my work brings me into daily contact with many wealthy business people ranging from multimillionaires to the occasional billionaire. These people can do or buy pretty much as they please at any time it suits them.  I envy this ability. (BTW. There is rich and there is super rich. The NASDAQ just opened a trading market for private companies that do not want to be subject to the regulations required to be listed on the regular NASDAQ exchange or the NYSE. Want to buy shares in those companies. Minimum requirement to play: $100 million in assets.)

Second, I lead a comfortable but not extravagant lifestyle.  I do not worry about how to pay the mortgage but I have to (or at least I do) think about what we are going to spend and what that means we cannot spend in the near future. I do not stay at a Four Seasons when I am picking up the tab. Also, I grew up at the low end of middle class life with less than I have now. 

Over the years I developed a self image of being egalitarian, a populist as it were. I came to admire that self image. (Too narcissistic?) I think about how money spent on the excesses of the wealthy would be better spent on the needs of the poor.  

Having said all that, I would not mind at all having enough money to live well and no longer work. I want to travel the world and stay at nice places while doing it. I do not like mediocre hotel rooms even though I am generally averse to paying for better given our current finances.  I like nice clothes though I could live in blue jeans and tee shirts. (I wore my Armani jacket for the first time at these meetings. I felt special having it.)

For now, contemplating whether or not I could get comfortable being one of the truly wealthy is purely an academic exercise.  One with wealth can always give it to the needy.

After all this introspection, I possess no greater understanding of these conflicting emotions than when I began.  However, being able to write about how I feel helps to exorcise the demons at least a bit.

 P.S. I loved the 1970’s mini series Rich Man, Poor Man.  Peter Strauss, a young Nick Nolte and the extremely sexy Susan Blakely starred. What ever happened to her?