Watching a professional boxing match some years ago, I saw that a boxer I knew seemed to be fighting far below his ability and I was convinced he should be easily beating the guy. But he ultimately lost the fight in a decision. I mentioned this to another boxer from the same gym. He said “He had it in his mind that this guy would win. He lost the fight before he left the locker room.”
When I was in High School track, the mile was by far my first love, but I often ended up assigned to the two mile run. At one track meet in Minneapolis in the year 1976, there were three of us running the two mile. One runner had some pretty good times (race duration), and the other was quite a bit taller than me. The tall guy commented “We don’t even need to run the race, we know the outcome, 1, 2, 3. At 3, he pointed to me, and I glumly accepted his judgement.
The two mile run is typically 8 laps on a quarter mile track. I ran the first part of the race in third place, and at the middle I noticed that the tall guy ahead of me was dying (really hurting). I ran a little harder and started to catch up to him. As he heard me coming, he sped up a but, but I kept after him, and once I passed him, he sort of gave up and slowed down.
I finished in 2nd place.
Moral of the stories: Cast your fate to the wind and let the contest decide. Fate is often kinder to us than we are to ourselves.