The Local Legend Syndrome
By L-J Anjema © Mar 26, 2006
Laurens-Jan Anjema and SquashTalk LLC
In the relatively short period
of time of 4 years I’ve been a
professional squash player I’ve come across a certain attitude
that I hate: the local legend syndrome.
With this I mean a ‘competitive’ person
whose capabilities are far more than his achievements but is content
with a status or title in only a small environment. Note the fact
that his talents far exceed his achievements. So I’m absolutely not talking
about an uneducated person who makes it to getting a respectable 9-5
desk-job or an untalented athlete becoming club champion through sheer
hard training and work. I’m talking about the narrow-mindedness
and attitude of people who are the best in their small environment but
never look further. I’m talking about the ‘local legend’.
|Dutch National Champion for 2006 (photo © Squashbond
And you know what? You can see this attitude in all areas
of life and on all levels too. So what, you’re the head of your office and
tell other people what to do?! So what, you’re the club champion
and the whole club (of 25 people…) look up to you?! So what, you’re
the national champion in your age category and you get interviewed on
The questions you should be asking are: am I living outside
of my comfort zone? Am I really trying to reach my full
potential? Am I trying to break my boundaries? Am I pushing
my limits? Remember, and I hate to go into clichés, but your only
limit is the one of your own making.
You are 3 people:
- The person you think you are.
- The person other people think you are.
- The person you really are.
The local legend cares about what other people think about him. In other
words, the local legend puts a lot of value into his reputation. But
here’s the problem: he puts so much value into what other people
(2) think of him, that, in the end, he himself (1) thinks what other
people (2) think of him. He has lost track of who he really is and –more
importantly- of what he can become.
Let me give you an example.
Two weeks ago I became Dutch
national champion for the 1st time. Suddenly, the papers asked me for
interviews, a camera-man and interviewer came to the venue to (finally)
do a more serious production than a ‘what-is-squash’ production
and a -recently started- Dutch squash magazine showed interest to do
a big article about me.
What does it mean to me? If I cared a lot about
reputation, exposure etc. I’d have said I meant a lot.
But to be
honest, it meant nothing. My biggest rival didn’t play
the event due to injury, I had never lost to any of the guys on my way
to the final, the last time I lost to the finalist was 4 years ago and
in the last year I had wins over top 10 players in the world. I don’t
say this to be arrogant or to put the event down, but just to keep things
A week later I lost first round in the Tournament of
Champions in New York…
So to say that with my first national title
I became closer to reaching my goals would be a lie.
My point is that we should strive to reach our full potential and not
get distracted by status, titles, reputation, 3rd party opinions and
media. Look further then your little world. I say, always want to improve.
Always want more. Never be satisfied. There’s always someone better
Above the Atlantic
PSA Ranking 11-1-2008: #14
His website (www.princelj.com)