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April 9, 2008

Tiger Woods and Poker

by Otis

B-roc looked at me last night from his spot in the box.

"I'm not sure Canada is right for you. Long winters, cold weather. Not sure..."

He let the sentence hang there, a perfect joke and follow-up to my latest self-deprecating comment. It had been a rough few weeks at Gucci Rick's and I hated myself as much as usual. I use self-torture as a comedic device, a poker technique, and yes, a defense mechanism. Sometimes I really do hate myself. Saying it out loud dulls the anger's edge.

Today, I started to wonder whether that Otis should play poker.

I am naturally skeptical of people who go out of their way to tell me how good they are. I figure if you are taking the time to tell me how good you are--at poker, knitting, sex--you're wasting time you could be using to show me. Maybe it's my Missouri upbringing, but I don't give a damn what people say most of the time. I'm moved by what people do. Talent, like character, is defined by action.

I watched a rather candid interview with Tiger Woods this morning. One of the first things he said that struck me revolved around if it is at all possible for Woods to look at himself as others see him.

"I'm in the moment," he said. Then, as if he'd just realized it himself, he added, "I am the moment."

What impresses me about Woods is not only his ability. It's his ability to not stand on every street corner and tell everybody how good he is. Moreover, it's his abilty to believe in himself with 100% confidence, but not let that confidence get in the way of his ability.

In the middle of a bad run--a slump, a middle finger from Mistress Variance, mound of bad beats as high as your ass--most people take one of two roads. They either kick and scream about how their ability is not yielding the appropriate results, or they fall into an introspective and self-abusing hole. I, if you've not yet caught on, fall in the latter category.

I aspire to Woods' brand of confidence. No. I don't aspire to that. It's more than that. I have to achieve it. You should, too. Success, it seems, is the ability to believe you can without letting that confidence get in the way of actually doing it.

To be sure, there are people who defy this axiom. There are people who find success without finding the perfect balance. But I wonder whether those people will ever be considered great.

I don't necessarily seek greatness, but I am in search of the confidence that greatness requires. As Wood's says, "I will be better tomorrow than I am today."

In a series of questions toward the end, Woods is asked a series of questions. Kobe or LeBron? LeBron or Michael Jordan? Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods?

Woods, without much hesistation, but also without an ounce of cockiness, picked himself. A pregnant pause hung in the air, as if to ask how anybody could be so cocky.

Woods barely smiled as he said, "You have to believe in yourself, don't you?"

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