How much does it pay to take rules seriously? Being serious is not always good, just ask anyone who umpired a McEnroe game. And McEnroe always had a different opinion of where the line was. In games where you don’t now have Hawkeye spoiling the fun, an attitude of deciding your own rules can be very effective.
Unfortunately I can’t say any of this with the credentials of being an outstanding sportsman or a progressive thinker. I only have one meaningless credential – winning a poker tournament last year. But it did teach me something about what might help people get ahead.
I didn’t want to be at this tournament, I was there under orders (corporate hospitality). I’m not a poker player, so I didn’t appreciate the etiquette or any of the sophisticated tricks. So I didn’t take it seriously at all.
I bet the lot if I had a half decent hand. People folded. I’d chuck chips away on poor hands too. People wondered if I was bluffing. I was just trying to get rid of chips – I wanted to go home.
Although I didn’t realise it, this disregard for winning and thinking proper poker thoughts turned out to be pretty handy. I found myself in the last 5, still unpredictable and rash. But by that point I was asking people to gamble an awful lot of chips to jump off the cliff with me, and they wouldn’t. So I cleaned up.
I guess you could say that right now I have an occasional ability to prevail inadvertently, through sheer incompetence. For me there’s a long way to go.
But having a mindset of escaping other peoples’ rules, believing in your own way, and taking risks that some others wouldn’t…that is something seriously worth aspiring to.