She just missed the easiest forehand smash of her life.
And it broke my heart.
She was in the third set against an opponent she desperately wanted to beat and that easy, floating, lame-duck of a ball represented a chance to emphatically make her claim to an important win.
And it went right into the bottom of the net.
The interesting thing about it, though, was that it was such an easy shot; missing it was almost impossible. It was so short and so pitiful, and my student was so close to the net, that any sort of normal swing would work one hundred times out of a hundred.
To miss it, she would have to do something drastic. With odds so clearly in her favor, to miss it, it would almost have to be on purpose.
Why would she miss it on purpose?
She badly wanted to win (so she says). She knows she can make that shot (so she thinks). She wanted to make it (so she lies).
The sad truth is: she knows why she missed it. In fact, she missed four other easy smashes exactly the same way in that fateful third set. One easy miss might be a fluke. Four is a pattern.
So, again, why did she miss?
She missed because she wanted to.
A great trader once said:
"I think that if people look deeply enough into their trading patterns, they find that, on balance, including all their goals, they are really getting what they want, even though they may not understand it or want to admit it."
We all have a perverse obsession with wanting to be right. If we're right, everything is okay. If we're right, the universe makes sense and we can remain comfortable in the lukewarm pool of our current everyday existence.
We want to be right. We NEED to be right. And we'll do anything to make it happen.
Here's the insidious part about that: if we think poorly of ourselves, we'll do whatever it takes to make that less-than image of ourselves come true.
We will gladly accept bad things happening to us as long as those things perfectly align with our bad self-image.
For example, if a trader thinks trading is ultimately too complicated and tough for him, he will sabotage a big winning trade. He'll get out early because he's not good enough to keep it going, lessening his winning. At the same time, he'll take the full amount on all the losers because that's what's supposed to happen anyway.
Lo and behold, look what happened? Trading turned out to be just as complicated and tough as he predicted.
He got what he wanted.
If a tennis player thinks she hasn't played long enough or isn't athletic enough, then missing shots is the proof she was looking for.
Or if she thinks, "I always screw it up when it gets close," then as soon as it gets close, here come the screw ups.
She, too, got what she wanted.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
All we have to do is change what we believe. If we believe we are great under pressure, then we desperately want to be right about that also. Our minds will work overtime to show that this belief is exactly the truth.
If we believe that we'll never stop until we reach the elite level, then we will relentlessly be successful until that level is reached.
We all get exactly what we want out of life. It's hard to admit but also feels euphoric when we admit it. We're now free to change our destiny.
Tomorrow could be the day that bad things stop happening to us.
All we have to do is change what we believe.
My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.