Don’t Believe the Hype

Don’t Believe the Hype

November 9, 2018

What’s the number one weapon we can use to reach our potential?

Thinking for ourselves.

Not following conventional wisdom.

Not regurgitating everyone else’s beliefs.

Otherwise, we could end up lost, stagnant, and sad.

I’m doing what I’m SUPPOSED to do. How come I’m not getting any better?

For example, if we follow the masses and believe the only way to succeed is to go to college, then we might turn down the billion dollar opportunity that would force us to drop out.

If we follow the crowd and believe all relationships have to end in marriage, then we might propose too soon and end up with polite diss tracks written about us.

Or we might ruin our tennis careers because we believe the urban legend about Pete Sampras’ switch to a one-handed backhand.

If you know tennis, there is a myth surrounding Pete Sampras becoming one of the best tennis players of all time.

The story goes that Sampras’ eccentric boyhood coach convinced Pete to switch to a one-handed backhand even though he had a great two-hander at the time. And, even though it was a tough decision, it eventually made Sampras a 14-time Major champion.

On the surface, it appears that Sampras was an original thinker and that it paid off for him just like it did for Bill Gates. And because of that, maybe you or your child is inspired to do the same thing.

Not so fast.

The truth is that the coach of Sampras at the time didn’t know anything about tennis. In fact, that same coach ended up in prison.

In retrospect, switching Sampras’ backhand wasn’t a noteworthy, bold move. It was a terrible decision.

As soon as Sampras switched, he started losing. He went through a bad slump. He began to be beaten by players he used to beat. In fact, when Andre Agassi saw Pete a few years later, he felt bad for him. No way Sampras was going to make it on the pro tour with a backhand that bad.

If that’s the case, then how did Sampras win all those Majors?

His serve.

Around the age of 19, Sampras started serving bombs. His body finally matured and it all came together, almost by accident.

That’s when the losing turned to winning. Sampras suddenly had a serve that no one could return. And when he combined that with an attacking, serve-and-volley style, he had weapons that worked on anyone.

His weak backhand was no longer an issue. Sure, Sampras was still constantly outclassed in baseline rallies, but no one could break his serve. And his otherworldly athleticism allowed him to dominate at the net.

He become an all-time champion–because of everything that wasn’t his backhand.

Keep in mind, at the time of the switch, Sampras was known for his backhand. Some compared it to Jimmy Connors’ backhand (another all-time champion).

So we should ask ourselves: how good would Sampras have been if he had a good backhand and a serve and all that athleticism? He might have won 19 Majors.

Instead of believing the urban legend, all we have to do is watch old Sampras clips. Take a look. His backhand is not good. In fact, it’s downright awful.

It was a wrong move that Sampras made work anyway–to his eternal credit.

If his serve hadn’t developed, no one would have heard of Pete Sampras. The “bold” switch put his future in danger.

And if we believe unsubstantiated stories instead of thinking for ourselves, we could ruin everything simply because we believe a myth.

But don’t take my word for it.

Decide for yourself.


My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.