Seven billion is unfathomable, the amount, the actual count, is far outside of any functional contemplation. Seven billion people live on this planet, each one of them with minds just like yours, spinning careening avalanches of thought and emotion. This is a formula comprised of limitless variables with an exponent of limitless variables. Now plug these infinite choices into a game, a competition, one that all of us are bound to, that we have no choice but to take part in. Life as we know it is competition, this is nature, behind the scenes, constant and fundamental. Take this in for a moment, let it settle… heavy.
Imagine if society wasn’t around to cut the competition, to lighten the load, give us some breathing room, some time to eat cake and surf the web. Life would be a dog eat dog no holds barred caveman routine, no rest for the weary. Let’s thank all of our ancestors for the idea of social contracts, golden rules, and Hans Blix. Obviously there are those who could do without society's filter, those who are predisposed and purpose built to compete, and while most manage civilized expectation they require an outlet, a way to release competitive instinct in a focused form. Out of seven billion, there are many in this mode, participants, competitors; pie eaters, bond traders, grant writers, cyclists, the list goes on.
At birth we are dealt a hand, what you get is what you get, and to compete at the highest levels requires that the hand we were dealt is a hand that fits the profile of your chosen event; mentally, physically, and emotionally, to even begin to think about winning one must have these in spades. Even then we are still dealing with an enormous sample size, in the world there are troves of competitive pie eaters, a redundancy of bond traders, and wave after wave of pelotons. Cyclists compete on 6 out of 7 continents and there are rumors that Pat McQuaid has been floating around the idea of an ice road tour of Antarctica. If there are so many gifted riders that natural talent becomes moot, then how does one gain an edge? To win you have to be the one percent, the cock of the walk, winning is not just about what god gives you but what you learn from his mistakes.
To win is to be obsessed, to find an edge. Winning requires brains, it requires lunacy, and it requires sacrifice. There are many who are willing to sacrifice and from those many are unhinged but champions are also gifted with intelligence. Those who approach winning with Sisyphean single mindedness, head always down working until they drop will not succeed, there are too many vying for the top step expect an advantage out of something so blunt. To win requires thought, contemplation, a need to study technique, to critique performance. The drive to win is a constant feedback loop, incessantly self-honing and those who keep a record have the chance to divine the patterns of victory, its diffuse secrets and vague codes. Each individual develops their own theories and formulas, for Ben Chaddock, when he pulled the sword from the stone, in his hands he was left with a training diary filled with precise observations and categorized minutiae, the focused details of life as an athlete. This is the process of winning; this is a manual for speed.