The topic of talking shit as a preamble to a competitive effort has always been interesting to me. Perhaps because I’m so bad at it. I’m not very witty, so I’ve found it best to keep my mouth shut. Three hours later, I’m sure I’ll come up with a real zinger.
Enter my scientific fascination with a little show called Broken Skull Challenge, hosted by Steve Austin at his most Steve Austin-y. Walking around and gesticulating with his gnarled ham hands and growling at competitors as they go head-to-head in a series of obstacle course-type challenges, and declaring random things to be “badass.”
This show is amazing.
What I’ve found particularly interesting is that prior to going head-to-head, there’s always a little blurb from each of the competitors on how they feel about their chances of winning. As I’ve watched previous seasons, I’ve started to suspect that there was a correlation between HOW a person talked shit, and their chances for success.
During the current season of the show, I’ve been pausing it just after each competitor has given their obligatory pre-competition bluster, and I’ll turn to Tara(my wife) and make a prediction about who will win, entirely based on what the competitor said.
I’ve been about 80% accurate so far. Last week’s episode I was 100%.
What I’ve found in my very unscientific experiment is this: Winners deal in facts.
Let me give you an example.
Competitor A: “This guy’s a Crossfitter and they’re weak as shit. I’m gonna eat his breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just you watch.”
Competitor B: “I’m going to run as fast as I can, and hit as hard as I can. I think I’m faster than this guy. I got this.”
One guy used hyperbole and an attempt at cleverness. This, to me, is a sign that he’s not confident enough in his actual abilities as compared to his opponent’s, and so he feels he has to resort to an emotional argument as opposed to a logical statement.
The other laid out a plan of action and a frank–but not degrading–appraisal of his opponent’s abilities compared to his own. To me, a sign that he is actively evaluating his opponent, and creating strategies to help defeat him.
My prediction: Competitor B will take this competition.
That one was easy. Here’s one that’s slightly harder, which I have transcribed for you directly from the episode…
Competitor A: “This is what I train for. This is how I train. Daniel’s Crossfit workouts–they ain’t gonna cut it.”
Competitor B: “The advantage I have in The Pit, with my wrestling background, jui-jitsu background, and MMA background…he’s not gonna stand a chance in there.”
So, who do you think wins?
(And yes, I accurately predicted this one)
You might be surprised that I picked Competitor A.
Here’s the reason why: Even though Competitor A threw a little hyperbole in there, most of his statement was still in the realm of fact–the competition played to his strengths, and he knew it. Competitor B, however, committed an offense that I’ve come to term “Reciting The Resumé” and bears with it the stink of death and defeat. He’s not actually making a plan of action, he’s invoking past successes in hopes that they still count.
That’s not dealing in facts.
That’s dealing in wishful thinking, and you know what they say: If wishes were fishes we’d all cast nets.
Being the intelligent, well-reasoned individuals I know you are (as evidenced by the fact that you read my blog), we all know that correlation does not equal causation. In other words, I can’t tell you whether dealing in facts makes you a winner, or whether there’s something in the mindset of a winner that makes them primarily deal in facts. But I can tell you that I believe it to be the former.
In the meantime, I’ll make sure that any competitive talk that happens to come out of my mouth deals with facts and avoids my resumé.
On a completely unrelated note, I might be taking a trip to Vegas for the next prize fight. Cha-ching.