Aphorisms: the modern mantra
During her acceptance speech at the Australian Tennis Open, Maria Sharapova mentioned that she had received a text message before the final from tennis great Billy Jean King. The message contained two short, pithy sentences: There is no reward without risk and Pressure is a privilege.
I like aphorisms; they are a simple yet powerful way of getting a message across. They are like mantras you can recite to yourself and they will instantly focus your mind.
We all know what the phrases They cant run without legs and The bigger they are the harder they fall are asking players to do. Tackle, damn it, tackle.
Sport is full of these pithy little truisms and Ive heard the No reward without risk adage before. Its valuable for players to remember that they need to pull out all stops to succeed; to be desperate; to give it all theyve got and leave nothing in the tank. No reward without risk is like the New York version of giving 110 per cent.
However, I had never heard this dictum about pressure being a privilege. It troubled me. I knew that it was more than just an opportunity for smug alliteration but it seemed so counter-intuitive. Surely the last thing you want to do before a big match is increase the level of pressure youre under?
Then the penny dropped. The pressure of a big sporting event is a given there is no dodging it so rather than just accepting it, why not revel in it? Why not see it for what it is; a chance to be great; to weather the storm and let your true colours come shining through; to stand head and shoulders above the drab humdrum of daily life and fulfill your potential?
As we move into the finals of the summer sports, it is worth remembering Billys adage: Pressure is a privilege. You have earned a spot in the big game and the people around you wouldnt ask you to shoulder the responsibility, face the pace or paddle out into the giant surf if they didnt think you were up to it.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and they know that you are a toughie, so soak it up.
However, should you slip and lose your footing and fall at the final hurdle, there will be an aphorism there to soften the blow as well.
If you think youve been robbed, its worth reciting this: Hatred is like taking poison and waiting for someone else to die. Let it go.
If fortune doesnt smile this year, remember there is always another year and if at first you dont succeed, try and try again.
Folks, it really doesnt matter whether you win or lose but how you play the game. Despite how hackneyed it sounds, that mantra is the greatest sporting aphorism of them all. If you keep that sentiment ever in your heart you will be a peace maker and one of the blessed few.