Attack the Week (ATW)
July 17, 2023
Having witnessed a live Wimbledon final for the first time ever, courtesy of my wife’s lucky ballot draw, I just marvelled at the sport I hold so dearly but also at the grace these players hold themselves in an ever-changing game. The emotion and physicality of the sport have evolved into something very special.
Not only are these players alone out there, fighting for every point for nearly five hours, but they are faced with numerous ups and downs, point by point and game by game, until the accumulation of their effort shows up in the end score.
It can certainly compare with what we go through in the investment world, at least the mental part of it and the resilience it takes to make it safely through to the other side.
Sport is an important part of my life. It is often said that these invented worlds of bat and ball teach us how to compete, strive, and ultimately, win. But there is another invaluable lesson that sport provides as it teaches us how to lose. It is all about dealing with the emotions of having tried one’s hardest just to come up short. This is especially important because it is defeat and how we respond to it that often defines us. How to learn from defeat and loss and refusing to allow it to destroy our motivation is, in my mind, what it’s all about. True resilience.
I remember there being a time when losing ungraciously was considered the hallmark of a champion. Even the business world would applaud those who fume when they lost and showed their frustration as it would indicate how much somebody cared.
It would almost sound plausible, the idea that it is in our discourtesy, our willingness to snub social convention, that we reveal our competitiveness. I think that’s rubbish.
The truth, at least to me, is that we can be ambitious, competitive and ruthless while remaining courteous and that we can be fierce in pursuing winning while honouring the rules. This is certainly true in life, as society typically can not function without a majority willing to play by the rules.
To put it another way, civility is not, as often thought, a surface aspect of modern society. It is part of its very foundations. It is in the way we interact, respect each other, and deal with adversity that we add solid foundations to the building blocks of civilisation.
Accepting defeat is the same as defeatism; it is the opposite. You have to learn from adversity rather than be consumed by it. That’s what winning is all about.
Watching young Alcaraz win on Sunday with his grace and fight when under pressure is an outstanding lesson in how to win. But his opponent, Djokovic, was equally marvellous too. In his post-match interview, he showed us how to lose. There is a lesson in there for me and hopefully for you too! I will follow up with more thoughts on this very important topic in the coming articles.
Now, let’s explore more.