The Backwards Law

The Backwards Law and finding success by not focusing on it.

"Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication…In the long run- in the long run, I say!- success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.” Viktor Frankl


Last night the San Francisco 49ers beat the Detroit Lions 34 - 31 and secured themselves a place in this year's Super Bowl. The Lions were up 17 points at half time, seemingly assuring victory. However, in football, the stakes are high and the pressure is real. The 49ers ultimately erased the deficit and took the lead in just eight minutes during the second half of the game.


I use to live in Detroit and would have loved to see them in the Super Bowl for the first in franchise history. No doubt, that was on every player's mind in the locker room during halftime. They started off strong; the Super Bowl seemed theirs for the taking.


Yet the moment the Lions began thinking about the Super Bowl rather than the game they were playing, they lost. You could see it in their play during the second half. They thought too much about what winning would mean, and not enough about the simple steps, plays and actions required to win in the first place. Yes, football is infinitely complex, but at its root, it is simply about coordinating eleven players to do a lot of little things better than their eleven opponents.


Philosopher Alan Watts popularized a concept called the "Backwards Law," which states the more you try to grab hold of something, the more likely it is to slip through your fingers. The more you try to get to the Super Bowl, the less likely you are to be present in the moment, make the right moves, and take the right actions that results in you actually getting there.


Does this mean you should not try hard? Of course not. Always do your best. It simply means do your best at the variables within your immediate control and let everything else be what it will be, including the final result.


"This is the real secret of life- to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play." - Alan Watts


- Antonio Gonzalez

Tri Town Bicycles



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