RAZORED ZEN: <a href=http://charlesgramlich.blogspot.com/2013/02/when-one-random-moment-becomes-critical.html>When One Random Moment Becomes Critical</a>

Monday, February 04, 2013

When One Random Moment Becomes Critical

Everything was going the Ravens’ way until the lights went out in the Super Bowl.  When the lights came back on, the 49ers came back with a vengeance.  Ultimately, the Ravens won, but it got awfully tight there for a while. I’ve seen such things happen many times in other games. I’ve never quite understood it and wish I did.  To be cliché, something “sparks” a team at a critical moment and they come alive. I’d use fresher language if I understood the underlying factors that cause the change.  It seems to me that what happens is that the team suddenly begins to “believe” in themselves.  But why that should happen just because some lights went out for a while is beyond me.

I started wondering if this kind of random happening can spark critical moments elsewhere in our lives. I thought of one, perhaps.  By all logical considerations, the change to a new year on a calendar is a completely arbitrary event.  Yet, many people treat the beginning of a new year as a new “start.”  I’ve known people to jump start careers, reengage in their marriages, change their lifestyles, and do many other things because they decide that “this day” or “this moment” is going to be the critical one.  Nothing changes in the physical world; everything changes in the emotional one.

Of course, many times people try to make such changes with good intentions but fail. This just makes the whole process more mysterious. Why do some succeed and others don’t?  Why do we succeed sometimes but not others?  I have to believe it is a largely an emotional phenomena, but surely there are behavioral elements to it. I wonder what they are?  If I could only figure them out I’m sure I could make a lot of money

What do you think?
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29 Comments:

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Be interesting to find out what clicks - or doesn't click - in the human brain.
When the lights went out last night, I told my wife that moment would affect the momentum of the Ravens, and it did. Just for the 49ers, it was a little too late.

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

We spent a long time talking about this. Just what turns the tide and can you pinpoint critical moments in the momentum theory. This will always be the year the lights went out in NOLA rather than the year the Ravens won. Although very Poeish.

 
At 12:39 PM, Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, yep, something goes on. Maybe if we could do brain scans during the time, but that would probably affect the results as well.

Patti, true that. About the lights. Hadn't thought it before

 
At 1:56 PM, Blogger jodi said...

Charles-terrible things happened "The Night the Lights When out in Georgia"!

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger jodi said...

I meant 'went'!

 
At 3:15 PM, Blogger Tyhitia Green said...

The human mind works wonders. We can motivate ourselves to do anything. How? I don't know. It's so fascinating. Something to think about, Charles.

 
At 5:59 PM, Blogger The Golden Eagle said...

Interesting questions. There doesn't seem to be any clear logical reason for comebacks like that.

 
At 6:46 PM, Blogger Riot Kitty said...

If you figure it out, let me in on the cash? :)

 
At 7:14 PM, Blogger A said...

There's definitely some sort of psychological shift that takes place. I think a combination of willpower and planning well is what makes the difference in the end, but who's to say?

 
At 7:37 PM, Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, Indeed. I like that song quite a lot actually.

Tyhitia, as a psychologist it is, perhaps, doubly fascinating.

Golden Eagle, nope. Sure doesn't.

Riot kitty, I'll keep that in mind, :)

"A", I'm trying to imagine how to investigate it scientifically but am stumped.

 
At 8:32 PM, Blogger Travis Cody said...

I think our minds are generally ordered. We like beginnings, middles, and endings. So when we think we're ready to start something, we look for a clear beginning point - the first of a week, the first of a month, the first of a new year.

As to getting through the middle and to the end of what we start, I think that's a function of how we understand and practice individual discipline.

The Ravens got distracted by the delay when the lights went out. The 49ers were already distracted, so they went the opposite and got more focused. That's my opinion anyway.

 
At 11:23 PM, Blogger Vesper said...

The mind is so mysterious...

Very interesting post, Charles.

 
At 1:36 AM, Blogger Cloudia said...

I think you are teasing out a new hypothesis to investigate! Or at least the germ of a cool conceit for your fiction. :-)
Aloha

 
At 2:01 AM, Blogger ivan said...

After seven decades(+) around the sun, I have (after a recent tragedy in the family), decided:

Your plan: Sucks.

God's plan: Rocks.

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger the walking man said...

Although in your profession you are trained to look to science for answers but for many millennium people didn't use a piece of paper hanging on the wall, they saw the cycles of the stars and the felt the pull of the moon and changes in distance to and from the sun. Those are all physical manifestations eh? a great cosmic engine drawing change out of people. Then we can't discount the societal influences either people will support you in your change or work to drag you down.

I didn't watch the game but my feeling is someone said just the right thing at the right moment and sparked a fire that caught on in the team as they rested..

 
At 9:10 AM, Blogger Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

It's like the old cliche: when you're hot you're hot, when you're not, you're not. :) When you're hot, anything that cools off the passion for a moment affects ambition and drive. The opposite is also true. When you're in a down period, anything that heats up the passion and drive tends to fire up the locomotive of pursuit. :) Unfortunately for the 49ers' train, they ran out of coal on the seven yard line.

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Cody, good point about the beginnings, middles and endings, and that may well be why we like some signal that something is about to begin. Great idea.

Vesper, stranger than we can imagine, perhaps.

Cloudia, I wish I could figure out how to investigate it. Very complicated, though.

Ivan, suckage is in the eye of the beholder. :)

Mark, I guess we'll never know the secret of such turnarounds unless we really are a kind of fly on the wall.

Bernard, I've had the same thing happen when I'm really rolling on writing and get interrupted. Often, coming back to it, I'm just flat.

 
At 11:24 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Great post. I was definitely nervous for a while there in that second half.

I think in general, it has a lot to do with self-discipline. January and February are often the busiest months at gyms and fitness clubs, and then in March and April membership drops off significantly.

Maybe people use the new year (or any other moment or event) as a catalyst, for something they've been trying to do but just couldn't get motivated?

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger Oscar said...

The Ravens were far enough ahead that they didn't have to do anything much, but when it came time to win, they did.

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger Sarah Hina said...

We will always try to find meaning in the (possibly) meaningless. And in doing so, we create the meaning we need.

Interesting topic. I don't usually pay much attention to the game, but this one was spellbinding because of the blackout and the way SF reacted to it.

I imagine a lot of these guys are highly superstitious. You'd have to be at their level. Any perceived advantage--any sense that some larger "force" is looking out for you, giving you an edge--might be just the boost that's psychologically required.

 
At 8:01 PM, Blogger laughingwolf said...

"...only The Shadow knows!" ;) lmfao

 
At 8:02 PM, Blogger laughingwolf said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:46 AM, Blogger laughingwolf said...

removed double post...

 
At 6:56 AM, Blogger Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, there are times when I am feeling low and the next moment I tell myself the best thing to do in this state is to get right on top of the situation. I have no explanation but it almost always works. Generally speaking, I think optimism is ingrained in our blood even though we spend most of our life being pessimistic. There is a hidden spark in all of us. Some see it, most don't.

 
At 7:50 AM, Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Greg, I've used the new year that way myself quite often. With writing at least it has sometimes been successful. With weight loss, not so much. :)

Oscar, yeah, the Ravens definitely seemed to relax. Maybe a little too soon. But it turned out OK for them.

Sarah Hina, superstition. I hadn't really thought of that. There's an interesting angle to it.

Laughingwolf, Maybe I could interview the Shadow. :)

Prashant, yeah, good point. The thought that things will go well this time is often with us. I feel this way whenever a new work of mine is published. I feel like this will be the big break.

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger Snowbrush said...

I watch one football game a year, if that, and it's always the Super Bowl.

 
At 9:46 PM, Blogger laughingwolf said...

love to read THAT one, charles ;)

 
At 7:24 PM, Blogger Sidney said...

You know, when a butterfly flaps its wings.

 
At 7:55 AM, Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Snowbrush, I watch as many as I can get in.

Laughingwolf, does sound interesting.

Sidney, indeed. AS good an explanation as any.

 

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