For the next couple posts, I want to explore the concept of tilt. Earlier this week, I discussed the origin of the term tilt and how it moved from pinball to Poker to Magic the Gathering. Then, last time, I summarized some of my own struggles with tilt. Today, I want to talk about a new way of thinking about this level of frustration.
Allow me to share with you two statements that stopped me in my tracks:
1. Everyone will eventually run worse than they ever thought was possible. Let that sink in for a moment. No matter how good you may be, no matter how successful you may become, at some point the bottom is going to drop out. You will experience a sequence of bad outcomes. And this sequence won't play itself out quickly. Instead, it will continue longer than you would ever have thought possible. And here's the clincher.
2. The difference between a winner and a loser is that the latter thinks they don't deserve it. Allow me to restate that more clearly. You do not deserve to win a single game of Magic. Again, no matter how good you may be, no matter how successful you may become, you do not deserve to ever win another game of Magic. Nothing is given. The universe owes you nothing. Great skill and great success do not guarantee future results. And until you are ready to accept this, you don't belong among the ranks of winners.
Maybe this sounds like bad news. But in fact, at least for me, it is surprisingly liberating. Part of what I believe fuels the frustration of tilt is this unspoken belief that this particular sequence of bad beats is some sort of cosmic injustice that must be righted if the world is to go on as before. It simply feels so unfair, so wrong, so staggeringly unlikely as to be almost unbelievable. And the natural response of most of us to injustice is a blazing passion to see the wrong made right, especially if we're the one who is perceived to be the victim. But there is no victim here. No matter how great the odds are against the sequence of outcomes that have dropped the bottom out of my game, I don't deserve anything better. I am owed nothing. And I shouldn't be surprised by these experiences. After all, at one point or another everyone is going to have a similar story.
Unfortunately, knowledge alone is rarely enough to change behavior, especially when behavior has become habitual. So if you struggle with tilt, what should you do about it? That's what I want to talk about next time.