Does the pressure of being in the lead make you take greater risks to maintain it, or do you feel like you have to prove yourself, and show everyone you're a well deserving winner, allowing hubris to rear its ugly face.

In Golf, Kyle Stanley bounced back from a bitter defeat to win the Phoenix Open on Sunday, erasing an eight-shot deficit to claim victory a week after his last-round collapse at Torrey Pines.

Alan Millhone replies: 

Hi Craig.

I have had the honor of being referee at several world title checker matches. The top Grand Masters when in the lead will be content and play for draws and thus force their opponent to take chances to get a win.

Leo Jia writes:

Being in a leading position is generally tough. First, the leader in a group doesn't automatically get enough motivation to advance. Secondly, he is in an unfair situation where the next win is generally considered a nonevent while a slip to the second position is considered a disaster.

In Chinese idioms, there are some that promote leading. Such as:

First argument occupies the mind; Act first to get the advantage; Voice up the strengths first to forestall the opponent; Be like a crane standing among chickens;

Then, there are many that are against leading:

Sticked-up head gets shot; A man dreads fame as a pig dreads being fat; Protruding rafters rot first; The outstanding tree gets destroyed by wind; The excellent craftsman gets most denies from all craftsmen;

Generally there are more negativity toward leading. Looking back to historic events, a crown prince (a leader of all princes) is perhaps the most dangerous position one can get. From similar reasoning, one key teaching of Confucius is the doctrine of the mean , which basically tells everyone not to stick his head out.

The relative advantage of the leader from the rest (the second and the third for instance) is also very interesting. Consider A, B and C to be the leading, the second, and the third parties respectively. The difference between B and C relative to the difference between A and C is a determining factor in relationships. If B is closer to C (than to A), then generally, B and C will form a union to fight A. Conversely, if B is closer to A, then A and C will very likely form a union to fight B. In either situation, C always has an illusion of being the most advantageous to form a union with A, which as a matter of fact is the most detrimental to itself as well as to B.

A famous ancient novel based on real history called Romance of the Three Kingdoms depicts the above relationships very well. The story happened between 169 AD and 280 AD, when the three kingdoms within the current China's territory: Wei (A), Wu (B), and Shu (C) dealt and fought amazingly amongst themselves, with incessant conspiracies and strategies, all seeking to conquer the entire territory.

Here is the Wiki Page about the novel.  An online English version of the entire (long) novel apparently can be read here.


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