The recent circus surrounding the AFC Championship game’s “Deflate-gate” has brought this idea of you-can-win-but-not-too-often to the fore for me. A lot of people are jealous of winners, no matter where the winners are or what the winners have won at. When there is a possibility that the winners might have had an advantage, many people willingly believe that the winners took that advantage, because it is then easier to accept one’s own shortcomings.
Some people think, without any proof, that Brady and Belichick “cheated.” This is a more a reflection on that group of “thinkers” than anything else. It tells me that they don’t believe you can win without cheating, and that if they were on the losing side, then the opponent must have cheated.
If there is a whiff of a possibility of something amiss with the “winners,” no matter how absurd or implausible, then “A-ha…THAT explains it” is the cry and the “I-told-you-so folks” come out in force.
Never mind that the Patriots is a team that is well-coached, highly disciplined, and comprised of players who get the job done because they go out there and “do their jobs.”
Never mind that they have the mental toughness, composure, and grace under pressure to come back from impossible deficits.
Never mind that they are always complementary about their opponents, never talk trash, or boast about their accomplishments.
Never mind about all that. If there is the tiniest possibility of explaining their accomplishments by unethical means, let’s grab on to that instead! I DO NOT buy into that school of thought.
I believe that neither Bill Belichick or Tom Brady knew anything about or had anything to do with any attempts to rig the game. Why? Because they don’t NEED to. The Pats win because they are straight up better. Better because they work harder AND smarter.
Everyone loves those who work hard, but some seem to be troubled by those who “work smart.” Being smarter has always been suspicious to some and annoying to many. Suspicious because some just can’t get their head around it. Annoying because being outsmarted often creates more resentment then being out-worked. The reason may be that one can always WORK harder to rebalance the advantage, but it is often more difficult to BE smarter to be competitive. Yet, working to be smarter is exactly the quality we should celebrate, in sports and in life.
The reason for this is two-fold. First, working harder, while admirable, is not scalable. One can only work so hard. Hard work is limited both in terms of time and effort. Second, the results of working harder is typically linear, but that of working smarter can be exponential.
I am not dismissing hard work. In fact, I do not believe that one can ever hope to “work smart” without first exhausting one’s ability to “work hard.” Working smart is achievable only by those who have reached their limits of working hard, but have the will to continued to push further, looking to do better, and ultimately finding the “enlightenment” of working smarter.
I don’t like it when others prosper because of unfair advantages, but I also don’t begrudge those who do better because they work harder to get ahead. However, I really admire those who do better because they work smarter in addition to harder, and so should you. It is because of them that we all see that it is possible to go beyond our own limitations.