Initially, this method did not make sense to me because, like other high-performing athletes, I was used to always aiming higher, being tougher, and going harder. Why would I waste my time playing weaker opponents? As I spent more time thinking about the concept, however, it became apparent that I might actually benefit from applying the rule of thirds.
Tennis is a mentally challenging game. A player can beat a superstar one day and lose to an underdog the next. Many variables factor into the outcome, and the most significant factor is the mental composure of the player.
Confidence is the key to success. Confidence can’t be gained overnight, and it requires a tenuous balance: Too much confidence will cause you to be careless and make more mistakes; too little will inject doubt and indecisiveness during critical points. How do we train and grow our confidence? That is where the Rule of One-Third comes in.
PLAY AT YOUR LEVEL
WIN AT A LOWER LEVEL
As a consultant with a few years of experience, I am fortunate to get stretch assignments. Most of the people I work with are either my senior or are industry experts. How do I make sure that I am developing my confidence and skills?
One way to practice the skills I learn from work is to do pro bono consulting projects. One organization, which I was fortunate to work with, needed a five-year strategic plan to survive and thrive in the millennial age. Coincidentally, I had just completed a merger-and-acquisition project where I used the strategic plan framework with the company. This was a perfect opportunity to apply the lessons I learned and improve from my earlier project.
A player can beat a superstar one day and lose to an underdog the next.
Coaching is like managing people. If my student fails, I am very mindful of what I could have done to better position the student for success. Often, the gap in communication comes from my assumption that my students know what I know. Coaching young people builds my confidence, but more importantly, it helps me affirm that I am practicing what I preach.
This is just one example of how to apply the Rule of One-Third. You can use it for almost anything—from the type of people you spend your time with to the books you read. In short, understanding this concept has helped me to stay objective and focus on the long term, whether I do well or struggle at work.