12 Apr Ridiculous Optimism
Apr. 12, 2019
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Recently, I saw something ridiculous.
Roger Federer was playing Kevin Anderson at the Miami Open, and Anderson was taking a pounding.
Keep in mind that the last time these two met, Kevin Anderson had done the unthinkable. He had ruined everyone’s Wimbledon by fighting off match point and coming back from two sets down to upset Federer.
Keep in mind that Kevin Anderson can serve through a brick wall (and is among the world’s leaders in hold percentage).
Keep in mind that there are only six people walking the face of the earth ranked higher Kevin Anderson.
And yet Federer was mashing him unmercifully.
At one point, Roger led 6-0, 2-0, and it wasn’t that close. And guess what? With Anderson serving, Federer had another point to break Anderson’s serve again.
For Anderson, things looked bleak. Worse than bleak.
It was downright embarrassing.
Here Anderson was, 140 mph serve and all, down 8 games to none with a point for 9-0.
I would’ve faked an injury and then quietly left the country when no one was looking.
I was wondering when he’d do the same.
And then it happened.
After fighting off that break point, Anderson pumped his fist and yelled, “C’MON!”
I’m sorry, what? What did he just do? He’s taking the beating of several lifetimes, has won exactly zero games, and is yelling “c’mon”? That’s ridiculous. He should know better. People should know when they’re conquered.
But there was something else going on here.
Anderson wasn’t just trying to save face while appearing like he was trying. No, he wasn’t posturing at all.
He meant it. He really was pumped up at that moment. You could see it in his eyes.
He actually thought, “If I can hold here, I’m still only down a break. Then I might get my serve going and stay in the match. And then maybe Roger will throw in a bad game and I’ll be back in the match.”
Against all odds and human sanity, he was trying to plot out a way to win from 6-0, 2-0 down.
The score said it was impossible. Optimism said there’s a way.
And wouldn’t you know it? Anderson did hold, did get his serve cranking, and did break back.
Somehow, about 20 minutes later, Anderson led the second set 4-3.
Everything had turned on that one ridiculously optimistic moment.
Of course, he was playing Roger Federer, so there was only one way this match was going to turn out.
But that’s not the point.
The point was that optimism, with hard work behind it, is never ridiculous.
It’s one thing to wish merry thoughts and do nothing about it as life harshly marches on.
It’s another thing entirely to be outrageously optimistic and fight like a deranged wolverine to try to make it happen.
Federer is the greatest athlete of all time.
But Anderson pulled off the most amazing thing that night.
My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.