Coyote vs. Roadrunner

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Chanting “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” does not make you The Little Engine That Could. Or maybe it does? The word of note is ‘could’. It hardly means that you have accomplished your goal. This Little Engine’s popular phrase of encouragement holds a duality rarely explored. Either you believe in yourself and enact a self-fulfilling prophecy, or you believe in yourself and play the role of Wyle E. Coyote, plummeting down the canyon. That Coyote awoke every Saturday morning thinking he could, and he was rewarded with dynamite to the face and laughter from a Roadrunner.

Speech (and debate) pleads for the same Saturday morning comparison. On any Saturday you either are The Roadrunner or The Coyote. No amount of practice or support can change that. There must be a rank of 6th for there to be 1st. It is a system of balance fed by man’s hunger for competition. Everything we do result in judgment and rank. Everyone has an ego, is slightly Narcissistic, and absolutely no one likes to be proved they are less by another. It’s totally Darwin and animalistic of us, but hey, we are animals.

No one likes to hear they will fail. No one wants to go through the pain and humiliation of knowing they are the worst in the round. I have never gone to a speech tournament and exclaimed, “Today I will suck! Afterwards…let’s get pie!” Actually, I think I have said this, or a variation of it, but in a downtrodden, non-jovial tone. The point is you will not always succeed. It is great to be optimistic and to exude confidence, but you will have days where you are The Coyote. And that is perfectly fine. Remember, it is all a part of that balance system. Yin and Yang. We cannot have love without hate, life without death, and 6th without 1st. There will come a time where YOU are The Roadrunner and that first place medal is around your neck.

But you must learn from your Coyote days if you want to advance. Learn to be humble. Do not expect to win; EARN IT. Read your notes from the judges. Practice as much as possible. Get everyone’s and anyone’s opinion of your piece. The least expected comment could utterly alter your perspective. Whatever is not working for you, Tim Gunn it and “make it work!” Keep your ears and eyes open to new possibilities. That is one advantage of being The Coyote—you can make endless alterations to your piece and experiment to discover your groove.

I continually serve my time as The Coyote (for we are all traversing through this Coyote/Roadrunner flux), and the most important bit of knowledge I have logged, between the bouts of Hulk-like frustration, is that when we are low is when we are at our strongest. We are forced to see the situation properly and accurately assess our attributes. We are no longer in our dream world of heightened success. Things are clear.

Success makes us lazy and boring; it’s when we fail that we truly utilize our powers and become something extraordinary.

So when you are The Coyote and things are bleak, remind yourself there will come a time with you will be The Roadrunner. You have to work for it. It is not enough to want it. And even when you have trained and desired an object, you might not grasp it. Not right then. Nothing worth while is instantly won.

But every Coyote has its’ day.

As Dr. Seuss wrote, “Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don't. Because, sometimes, you won't” (Oh, The Places You’ll Go).

That Dr. Seuss quote is why everyone should read "Oh, The Place's You'll Go." Sometimes we do fail. FACT.

Humbling. Humbling advice here.

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