Today, when Felipe Massa crossed the finish line on first on Formula One, our “default” narrator, Galvao Bueno, came with “Another victory for Brazil! Here, the music you all waited 13 years to hear”. For those unaware of it, the Brazilian television network came, years ago, with a theme song for when one of the Brazilian racers win the race. And that’s what we always heard when Piquet, Senna, Barrichello and now Massa won a race.
But the problem here isn’t the fanfare the TV does when a Brazilian racer win, but the “victory for Brazil”. For a correct situation, it was a victory for Massa. He did the race not “Brazil”. It was his victory, with all the glory and no one else (well, maybe the mechanics at Ferrari too, but that’s implied). That’s what should’ve been said. When someone says “a victory for Brazil”, they are “stealing” the glory of someone and giving it to someone else, without asking the parties if they even agree with that.
The fact that “success transfer” works is that there is someone to receive it without questioning. And that is more visible (at least, to me) on sports: when a soccer match ends, people go to the streets claiming “We won!” as if they were in the field and run for 90 minutes. Why no one says “The team I support won”?
Here, let me offer an answer: a long time ago, I read an article about how we underestimate our own efforts: everything we do is less than good and other people do everything we do a lot better; looking at our stuff with our own eyes, we only see poor works. We never take our own credit for what we do, and it always could be better. At our own eyes, we never fully succeed; full success only happens on other people work. Sports, being highly televised, shows people succeeding on a highly competitive activity; it is the success over someone else failure; a truly victory. And that’s why people transfer their team or racer or whatever success to themselves: to fulfill the lack of success they can’t see in their own lifes. Also, it is a lot easier to take this success when you don’t even have to sweat: just sit down, watch everyone else do the hard work and it is done.
That’s sad. Pretty pretty sad. People should really disconnect from that kind of stuff and look at their own stuff, look what they do and how there is always something they do right and that could be called success. Heck, even if you consider that air is a “liquid” that kills inertia, even moving forward can be considered a kind of success. And we do it every day. Just because everyone else also does it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.
Maybe that’s another problem: success can’t be archived if everyone else also managed to do it. Full success doesn’t come from other people failures: it comes from the challenges we put inside our heads and, thus, we need to beat ourselves. It is pretty hard to come to this: I was highly competitive all the way in college (“I need to do something better than everyone else in this class”) and, looking at my family history, I saw people succeeding in life while I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. It is pretty devastating when you only compare your work with others: underestimating our work means, inside our heads, we always lose.
Maybe success is just like a Murphy law: the more you want, the less you have. When you stop chasing it and start enjoying the ride, things will go way smoother.