Monday, August 6, 2012

Gold bars and badminton and priorities

Badminton is a favorite sport in my family. Growing up, we watched as many of the Thomas Cup and All England matches as were broadcasted on TV. We watched amazing feats by the international greats such as Rudy Hartono, Han Jian, Svend Pri, and Lim Swie King as well as Malaysia's own Punch Gunalan, Sidek Brothers, Ong Beng Teong, Cheach Soon Kit. Just typing these names bring back so many fond memories. 

The current Malaysian top player, Lee Chong Wei, was in the finals of the 2012 London Olympic games. He lost, but not before winning the first of three matches and going all the way to tie at 19-19 in the third. Lin Dan from China took the gold.

Not having caught the game on TV (somebody please tell me the best place to watch the match?) I read some articles on it. I found out that a rich businessman in Malaysia offered to gift any Malaysian badminton players with a gold bar if they won the gold. Malaysia is a small country and while she has seen some sports glory on other international stages, the Olympic gold medal is one that has eluded her.

The offer got me thinking. I can't believe that Lee Chong Wei, a person at the top of his game, who has known what it takes to remain a champion, and who has lost to Lin Dan more than he has won in recent years, needed an extra motivation to do better in an Olympics finals!!!!! That he would say to himself, "well now that there is an additional $600,000 involved, I'd better train harder,' is inconceivable. 

I have to say though, if someone offers me a gold bar for winning the TKD Top Ten or to get a book contract, I may shift my priorities. The thing about wanting a balanced life and learning different crafts is that there is always tension. Should I be playing Clue with my children? Should I work on my TKD form/core strength/balance/flexibility? Should I write? Pursuing excellence in one area often means putting aside another area, at least for the time being. There is always a cost. 

But I have to say, if someone were to offer me a gold bar for winning the world championship and getting a book published, I don't think I'd be doing anything much differently. That's a good sign, isn't it?



Davin Malasarn said...

I think that's a really good sign. :) Lately, I find myself trying to decide between writing and playing with my dog when I get home in the evenings. Peanut has a slight advantage, since he comes running over to me with his tail wagging so hard he can't even move in the straight line. My book is far less aggressive.

I have a feeling a gold bar would affect how I work, but not necessarily for the better. I tend to become a worse writer when my motivations are misplaced. My best work came out when I gave up on publishing--which probably made me more likely to publish.

Yat-Yee said...

I can just see Peanut! I use to call my dog wigglebutt because he didn't just wag his tail but his whole behind.

I know what you mean by motivations being misplaced. I've always resisted the reward/punishment drill, though not entirely successfully with my children, because that whole method is based on the behaviorist model, which was premised on animal behavior.

aquafortis said...

I occasionally wonder what life would be like, not if a gold bar suddenly appeared, but if I were to become independently wealthy and didn't have to worry about making a living. But I'd probably waste my time at least as much as I do now! :) I'd like to think I'd spend more of it on activities I find rewarding, like writing and art and music...but the truth is, I'm sure I'd procrastinate just as much.

The thought exercise is a good reminder, though, that it's really our own mindset that oftentimes keeps us from doing these things. Suddenly having more hours in the day would not necessarily change that.

Irene Latham said...

Hey Yat-Yee -- write us a book that includes badminton, won't you? I think you're doing exactly what you need to be doing.

Yat-Yee said...

Sarah: I'm a hopeless putterer and will probably waste a lot of time as well.

Irene: Sadly, I'm the only badminton fan in the family who doesn't play badminton. For some reason, I was pulled in by table tennis. But now you've given me a new possible idea! Thanks!

Big O said...

I met Chong Wei some years back when he was just knighted. I thought he'd be arrogant and aloof but he was just the opposite and from what I'd observed, I don't think he's changed for the worse. In my brief conversation with him the chap addressed me as "uncle". Hmmm. I don't really know him but he strikes me as a fellow who is never satisfied with his performance.
The gold bar may be an added incentive but I doubt he'd sell himself short. He grew up in the badminton hall and spent most of his time as a youngster there. Badminton is his passion and to replace that with a piece of gold would be just so sad. The Game back home has regained a lot of its past fervor and hopefully the Thomas Cup can come home to Malaysia; it's been sooo long. An old man's dream.

That said, if anyone does not want a gold bar, you can give it to me!

Yat-Yee said...

An ESPN commentator did say something about Lin Dan being arrogant but not Chong Wei. He does still seem like someone who has a good hear on his shoulder and well-grounded.

Yes, the gold bar, while obviously expensive, does cheapen the whole process of training and pursuing excellence.

Thanks for dropping by, Big O. Since you don't have an Open ID, I am making some assumptions about who you are. In a previous life, were you Big B?