I was texting with a friend about the Olympics and asked, “Why is the United States so good at everything?”
He replied, “people and money.” He’s right, to an extent. And I knew that.
But as I keep watching, I keep thinking, “It’s more than that.”
The United States has a huge psychological advantage. We have a history of Olympic dominance and an expectation of winning.
At the Olympic level, all athletes are driven and talented and hard-working and strong so having all of this AND a confidence and expectation of winning ends up being a huge advantage.
My Dad has said on the golf course before that golf is a game played mostly between your two ears. In other words, it’s a mental game. This is true to a greater or lesser extent in technically sophisticated sports but it’s still true to some degree in all sports.
It’s hard to measure, but I think the legacy of greatness held by the United States is a huge weapon. Winning begets winning. It’s a virtuous cycle. There are no guarantees and there are always likely to be upsets and changes in fortune in sport but the advantage of psychological edge and an expectation of winning can’t be underestimated.
And this applies to anything in life. “We don’t get what we deserve, we get what we think we deserve,” as is said.
Of course, there is a difference between having confidence in winning and beginning to feel entitled to the win The 2004 U.S. men’s basketball team learned this the hard way when they lost out on Olympic gold in a big way. Taking things for granted in a competitive endeavor is always ruinous.
I was so lucky to be born in the United States. It’s good to meditate on this and never take it for granted.
And it’s good to work like mad and always expect to win, always, in sport, business, and life. And never stop having faith in that. The second you lose faith in that is the second a more confident player who expects to win will begin scoring points against you.