A Championship Awaits:



Many years ago, I attended a tennis tournament that matched a champion player with a top seed from an elite college known to have an outstanding team. It was a small event, and I found a great seat right near the court. I could hear all the chatter of the players. The champion player won easily, but lots of shots by the top college player were beyond the baseline by a distance that a speck of dust might cover. After one of these shots, the champion player held her head and said to her coach with clear disgust, “Look how far out these balls are.” A tiny distance stood between the top college player and the champion player, but this is not how it was perceived. At the end of the match, it seemed as though something terrible had happened. The score was 6-0, 6-1, and the champion player walked away very annoyed. My guess is that she believed the mismatch of talent was too great and she had wasted her time.

A speck of dust can mean a lot in talent allocation. Small differences get magnified and not only on a tennis court. It happens all the time in Academia, and it plays out for students who feel that the distance between those attending an elite college and everyone else is so large that there is even some shame in saying where you attended college. Decades of teaching have taught me that those who push the small differences away in their mental game really play well. So, take advantage of all the opportunities surrounding you, whether it is a promotion or a good grade, or joining a club, start acting as though you never noticed the speck of dust. A championship awaits.

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