The media and “talking heads” completely buried the decision to throw because of one data point: the pass was intercepted and the Seahawks lost the game. But I don’t believe this was a bad decision. In fact, I think this was a very well-informed decision that more people possessing all the data might have made given ample time to analyze the situation.
As you always say, you can’t judge the quality of a decision based on results. If we somehow were able to replay this game in alternative realities to test the results, I think the Seahawks’ decision wouldn’t look so bad. But they certainly lost, perhaps because of bad luck. Now, similar to the USC/Texas situation, the media has written some very significant storylines regarding legacies:
I believe that half of any victory in a tennis match is in place before you step on the court. If you don’t have that self-belief, then fear takes over. And then it will get too much for you to handle. It’s a fine line. (Emphasis added)
Djokovic’s statement reminded me of a conversation I had earlier this month, on a subject I’ve written about rarely if ever: self-confidence. It ranks high among the attributes that must be present if one is to achieve superior results. To be above average, an athlete has to separate from the pack. To win at high-level tennis, a player has to hit “winners” – shots his opponents can’t return. They’re hit so hard, so close to the lines or so low over the net that they have the potential to end up as “unforced errors.” In the absence of skill, they’re unlikely to be executed successfully, meaning it’s unwise to try them. But people who possess the requisite skill are right in attempting them in order to “play the winner’s game” (see “What’s Your Game Plan”).
These may be analogous to investment actions that Yale’s David Swensen would describe as “uncomfortably idiosyncratic.” The truth is, most great investments begin in discomfort – or, perhaps better said, they involve doing things with which most people are uncomfortable. To achieve great performance you have to believe in value that isn’t apparent to everyone else (or else it would already be reflected in the price); buy things that others think are risky and uncertain; and buy them in amounts large enough that if they don’t work out they can lead to embarrassment. What are examples of actions that require self-confidence?