TOBY NG

Bad Guy

I just hate to be the bad guy" - Bad Guy - Eminem

My favourite fictional characters are the anti-heroes. The flawed heroes. Characters like Dexter, House, Sherlock Holmes, and of course, Deadpool. The reason for this is because these characters do what they think is right, without the constraints of society or peer pressure. They act on their beliefs and values, and because they have less to worry about what society thinks, they often end up saving the day. They are the rebels, but I have a deep respect for these characters for taking action.

Obviously it's different in real life. I believe in action, but I would never condone violence against other people. At that point, it's easy to take a step back and realize how short life is, and maybe the situation really isn't that important in the grand scheme of things. I would much rather leave than physically fight, because things definitely get out of hand quickly in those situations. Consider the United States and North Korea with their nuclear weapons. What really is the point if it has to go to that? It's pretty simple: nothing will matter if you are dead.

Returning from the digression, I have been with badminton for a very long time and my time is near its end. There have been many things I have accomplished, and many I really wanted to do, but due to the circumstances of my actions and the competitive nature of the sport, we often don't get what we hope to achieve. But I'm okay with that because I've felt I've given it a good shot and I don't regret the experience. If I could live through my career again, I would still enjoy it because I've had far more ups than downs.

With that said, I've feel like I've become the bad guy in some contexts. It doesn't bother me as much as you might think it would, even though I'm writing about it right now. I write because I want to diffuse the concept: I'm not the bad guy. But I'm also not the good guy. I would even decline from accepting "anti-hero", because I'm just a normal person. It would be foolish for me to let my ego accept anything greater than being normal. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves that question as well: are we too often the hero/heroine's in our own minds?

It's interesting because I see so many people in their own heads. Do you see it as well? I don't think I've ever turned down anyone who asked me for help or advice. The ones I've been fortunate to work with, they understand. Perhaps it could be my fault for not reaching out to others, but I have in some instances. Who haven't I asked to play Mixed Doubles at certain points in time? With Men's Doubles partners, it's been a bit more complicated because there were many times I would prefer to focus on one event, but circumstances change many things. For example, I previously thought I should just focus on my mixed doubles, but then I realized training men's doubles offered some large benefits. I was wrong. But hey, at least I can admit that. Can you?

So I would like to apologize to those who asked me to play Men's Doubles this year. I had no intention of playing, but due to circumstances, I had to find a partner to play with. But sometimes these circumstances are out of my control, because you never know what you say to one person may be relayed to someone else. Trust is huge, but I'm okay with that. Because what I say to someone about someone else still stands. Perhaps I might not say it in the same way, but maybe I would. It depends on how I feel the person can handle that information. Although I may tell someone something first, I don't consider it talking behind someone's back if you intend to tell them eventually. For example, if my partner needs work on her front court because she has some fundamental errors in her front court game, I'll eventually tell her after I make sure I am right about my assumption. What is the easiest way to test an assumption? You ask someone else who has a similar knowledge base. But if you ask Person A a few things about Person B, is it really talking behind Person B's back, if Person A talks to Person B about it before you have the chance to figure out how to address the problem? True story.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

As the saying goes, shame on Person A. But what if it really wasn't the first time? Shame on me. That's fine, I can take it. If Person B is still mad at me, that's fine, I can take it. Because if I really am the bad guy, I apologize. I will leave (soon enough). I'm leaving whether or not I'm good, bad, or normal. When my time is up, it's up. Such is my life as an athlete; such is life in general.  But when I'm still competing against you on court, I'm still going to try my best. Sometimes it comes down to some mind games, but again, what I say is what I believe. Let me elaborate on a very important lesson for those who took the time to get here:

When you play a match and win a point, how do you assess that point? Of course you win the point and can celebrate the point, but deep down, do you really believe you earned the point? For example, do you really believe your shot clipped the tape on purpose? Your late high-risk shot just happened to land on the back line because you didn't hit it properly? Because I don't believe you can do that shot again. I don't think you can do that consistently. So I might say things to myself or partner to reassure them of that. Of course it may be degrading to hear what I say, but that's my coping strategy. On the flip side, there are times I've hit awkward shots and won points, and you can see it in my face that I knew I was lucky. You knew I was lucky. But why is it not the same way around? Most of you are too emotional about the point and didn't realize it probably was a mistake that might come back to haunt you later on in the match. That's fine, even if you did come through in the match, it will come back and cripple your long term progress. That's why I believe that it's important that you have the ability to hit shots with a quality and pacing that you expect, and that's how you improve your game. That's how I improved mine.

This revolves around accountability, which is probably going to be different for different people. Sometimes my mistake is projecting my standards onto other people, and I know that it incorrect and for that, I'm wrong. But part of why I seem like a bad guy is because I'm very huge on accountability. The way I see it, there are two types of people: those that "talk crap" and those who "bullcrap". Feel free to replace "crap" with the other four letter word for mature audiences. To me, those who "bullcrap" are those without accountability. They can say what they want and have a vision and expectation of how they hope things will go, but no real way to measure it. The other camp that "talks crap" usually are those who are accountability-based and "talking crap" about those who are "bullcrapping" them. If one side didn't "bullcrap", then the other side would have nothing to "talk crap" about. This then extends into a blame game, because the "bullcrappers" were promised something that wasn't delivered by other "bullcrappers" and then everyone is "talking crap" about the process. 

I understand. I get it. I've been in the system for more than 10 years now, and I know. So to close, I'll offer my take on it. Free of charge. Take or leave it, I don't care.

- Be accountable to yourself. If you want to make a team, then make it as number one. If you want to win the National Championships, then you better make sure you're finding a way to beat your opponents, instead of relying of hope, prayer, or luck. Just cuz you yell more than your opponent doesn't mean "crap". Know the extent of what your goals require. If you want to make the Olympics in Singles and Doubles, what is your competition across the globe? How good do you really need to be? How much information do you have, and how accurate is your information? How many other people have accomplished your task in the past, or are you going to be the first one to do it? So you're telling me that you want to qualify in two events for the Olympics, while doing school, while only competing for 2-3 years, training in Canada, while most of the other athletes in the world have 4-8 years of experience, train one event, and train full time? Who is "bullcrapping" who now?

- Be humble. Everyone is doing what they think is the best for them, although not everyone is doing what's best for them. Despite that fact, no matter how great your improvement, other people find a way to improve as well. There is also an upper end of improvement. It's like a Tesla: if you're operating on max speed for too long, the engine overheats and you have to bring down your speed. Don't forget how important recovery is.

- You are responsible in how you handle everything that happens to you. That is the one thing you can control. If someone says something "bad" about you, your opportunity is to first assess whether there is any factual truth. To throw away that truth and assume it is only opinion could be an opportunity to improve thrown away. Sometimes those who put us down are the only ones who provide us the truth we need to grow. You may not need these people in your lives regularly, but use their feedback as an opportunity to grow. Conversely, if your friends and partners are not conducive to your growth as an athlete, then how will you get any better?

- Not everyone is friendly or approachable, but how do you know that? How often are your perceptions incorrect or in your own head? If you need something from someone, the easiest way is to ask. None of us (as far as I know) are mind readers. We all have our own problems. Those who proactively help others are probably saints. Normal people just do their own thing until you ask. The worst response you can get is a no (may not apply online).

That's all for today. Good guy, bad guy, whatever. I'd prefer to be the bad guy though, because those who can see past that to find the opportunities of connecting with me are on the right track, because I will give them as much as I can. Show me respect and I will pay you back 10-fold. Break my trust and you will be facing a myriad of half-truths. Many of you are told you are in high performance, some of you actually in high performance, few of you are actually high performers. It's a lonely road at the top, and if there are too many people with you, you'll know where you really stand.

And that's why I'm making a stand. I want to produce content to help those who really want to be high performers. Those who don't care or don't like me, please, I don't need your following. Unfriend me. Go away. If I get only one or two "likes" from people who genuinely appreciate my content, it will be worth more than ten thousand casual likes by people who don't care. At the very end of the day, I will always have at least one "like", because I'm doing this for myself. I will be a high performer on my own terms, and I hope you can find a way to get there some day. We only live once, so might as well be good at it.
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