My favorite athlete to watch in an individual sport is Rafael Nadal. He is currently second behind only Roger Federer in number of Grand Slam tennis titles won. If you don’t know who he is, you can look him up.
I like him because he is the rare combination of innate talent with an unmatched, ferocious work ethic. He is also humble in victory.
He is known for his relentless, never give up, never-quit-on-a-point effort. That, and his weird OCD including a ritual of pre-serve tics, and precision water and juice bottle placement. It’s fascinating to watch him place his juice down and give it an eighth of a twist to get the label pointing in just the right direction. As if that will matter.
Rafa never argues calls that go against him. He never complains about points he loses. He just moves on to the next point. When asked about the apparent discrepancy of being meticulous about juice bottles and yet not arguing even questionable calls, he said, ”I don’t waste emotional energy on things I cannot control.”
In a life with finite energy available. It’s better to spend it twisting a bottle you can control, than to argue with a referee you cannot. It’s very important to recognize the difference.
You and I will never be Nadal. It’s rarified air to reach the summit of your field or profession, so that’s likely out of reach, too. But we can learn from him where not to waste our emotional energy.