25 October 2011
There’s a really great term that is used in poker to describe when people become affected by their luck and then react to it in a negative way. They say that someone’s “on tilt” when a couple of bad outcomes (whether by luck or by bad play) starts a downwards spiral in their performance.
I haven’t come across another way to describe this phenomenon, but you see it everywhere, especially in sport. A tennis player will hit a bad shot and get a little frustrated with herself. She’ll then make another error, and get even more frustrated – and eventually make error after error after error, each error reinforcing the next.
I think life is sometimes 5% luck, and 95% determined by your mental game. Sometimes something bad will happen to you and it’ll bother you a little. People who speed ahead in life won’t let it bother them at all – they’ll realise that we all make mistakes and can’t get everything right every time – but most of us will internalise it and go on tilt.
We’ll take that one comment too personally, or see that crappy test result as reflecting on who we are and not just a case of failing to perform at 100%. We’ll take every failure and every rejection as the world’s way of saying – “you’re not good enough, give up” – and when we start to lose confidence and second guess ourselves, more things start to fall apart.
We start acting recklessly, and we’ll convince ourselves that we don’t care. That it doesn’t matter us. That we don’t want it in the first place anyway.
And then we never make it out of being on tilt, because the moment that you convince yourself that it is you and not some spark of chance or because of a ‘bad day’ – the moment that we start to internalise things – that you then become the author of your own misfortune.