David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

Losing By A Small Margin Is Actually Encouraging

Whether we're professional athletes or cellphone gamers, falling just short of our goals can be motivating, not crushing.

Yesterday, Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller was having the best day of his baseball career. He had retired 26 Miami Marlins batters without giving up a hit, and needed just one more out to complete a no-hitter, one of the most coveted single-game achievements for those playing his position. There would be front-page headlines, days of interviews, and Miller would be forever honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame, alongside such legendary pitchers as Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, and Randy Johnson.

Instead, Marlins first baseman Justin Bour knocked a single up the middle, spoiling Miller's chance to get his name in the record books. What was poised to be a history-making performance was now merely a very, very good one.

Many baseball fans will be watching to see how Miller recovers from having a major career achievement snatched away from him at the very last possible moment. One could hardly blame him if he fell into a slump in the coming weeks, or even decided to give up baseball altogether for a lower-stakes profession that wouldn't cause moments of wasted opportunity to replay in his nightmares.

But according to an academic study conducted in Singapore, we may not respond negatively to narrow misses. In fact, close-but-no-cigar experiences motivate us to improve future performance in a wide range of areas. 

"While we often think of motivation as being targeted to a specific reward or goal, these findings support the notion that motivation is like energy and reward is like direction — once this motivational energy is activated, it leads an individual to seek out a broad range of goals and rewards," said Dr. Monica Wadhwa.

The study tested participants' responses to defeat by asking them to play a video game with a 16-tile board. They were told that half of the tiles had diamonds underneath, while the other half had rocks. The object of the game was to click on all eight diamonds without finding a rock. Once they finished playing, they could walk to a booth and claim a chocolate bar as a reward.  

In reality, the game was rigged, so that every subject would find seven diamonds and one rock. But while one group found the rock on their second click, the other group found the rock on their eighth and final click, just one diamond away from victory. The participants who had come close to winning appeared more motivated; they arrived to the reward booth an average of 12 seconds faster than the early losers.   

We often think of narrow misses as devastating setbacks that can throw entire lives off course. Although the stakes of its game were low, this study provides hope to anyone who's ever fallen just short of his or her goals. Whether you've given up a hit to that last batter, or you were second in line for that job you really wanted, keep your head up. You'll get a taste of victory elsewhere, and it might just taste like a chocolate bar. 

Read more at Daily Mail

LIVE EVENT | Radical innovation: Unlocking the future of human invention

Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Bubonic plague case reported in China

Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.

Vials Of Bacteria That May Cause Plague Missing From TX University

(Photo by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Getty Images)
  • The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
  • Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
  • Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Keep reading Show less

The dangers of the chemical imbalance theory of depression

A new Harvard study finds that the language you use affects patient outcome.

Image: solarseven / Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A study at Harvard's McLean Hospital claims that using the language of chemical imbalances worsens patient outcomes.
  • Though psychiatry has largely abandoned DSM categories, professor Joseph E Davis writes that the field continues to strive for a "brain-based diagnostic system."
  • Chemical explanations of mental health appear to benefit pharmaceutical companies far more than patients.
Keep reading Show less

Navy SEALs: How to build a warrior mindset

SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.

  • The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
  • Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
  • Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…