Unforced Errors

Tennis players make two errors:

  1. Forced. The player errors because of their opponent, like not returning a powerful first serve.
  2. Unforced. The player errors because of their mistakes, like serving into the net twice.

What separates professionals from amateurs is the ratio of forced-to-unforced errors. The professional makes few unforced errors—they manage themselves to counter their opponents better—while the amateur trips over his untied shoelaces. The hack also tends to blame their failure on external factors, like poor equipment or nonideal circumstances like the sun in their eyes. Those factors might contribute, but do they have more weight than unforced errors?

People can’t choose the hand they’re dealt—physically, financially, mentally—but they can decide how they play it. Life is hard, so why self-sabotage and make things worse? A timeless idiom: “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”