Love the process

Recently I had the opportunity to return to my first passion, field hockey, as a television analyst for the Hockey World Cup. This year's tournament took place in The Hague and I did live commentary on the women's matches. It was really fun to reconnect with my old teammates and friends in the hockey world since I've been largely away from it in the five years since my retirement from the sport. It was also a relief to be able to sit back and analyze the game instead of having to be out there on the field working for the win!

My former teammate Janneke Schopman is now an assistant coach for the USA women's team, one of the big surprises of the tournament. They were ranked tenth coming into the World Cup and ended up finishing fourth when they lost their semifinal match in a shootout against Australia. Janneke has only been with the team for a few months but is already learning so much about how the Americans train. Overall, they have a lower skill level than say, the Dutch women, but that's only because we start playing hockey at six years old and in the US it doesn't happen until around age 13. However, despite that seven-year setback in training, the Americans came in fourth at a world championship event. It can only mean one of two things--either they're tactical geniuses or just really, really fit. With these girls, it was definitely the latter. What the Americans lacked in skill, they made up for with an incredible work ethic. They just kept going full power for the whole 70 minutes. Their energy was unreal. It was too bad they missed out on a medal but it was still a great achievement.

People always ask me, "What's the best moment of your life?" Most of the time, I think they're expecting me to say it was winning a gold medal at the Olympics. If my best moment was just the last minute of that game and being able to stand at the top of the podium afterward, well, that's a pretty short moment! The gold medal is wonderful, of course, but it's just a result. The process is what's truly meaningful-- training, becoming a better player, meeting people and sharing ideas. The process is where you spend most of your time. It's what life is really about. Whether you run a business, play a sport or make art, you have to love the process even more than the results in order to truly excel.

I used to wonder about all the athletes who would go to the Olympics knowing that they were never going to win. Why would someone invest all that time and energy if they knew they had no shot at a medal? It's because that time and energy is invested in something they love. Their challenge isn't to beat the best team in the world, it's to prove to themselves that they're the best athletes they can be. Even though they may come in last, they're still doing what they love and inspiring people along the way. To me, it's a beautiful thing.

When it comes to poker the same principle applies. Winning a tournament is a euphoric moment, but it's not going to happen that often and you can't wrap your happiness around it. And if you don't love the process--reading opponents, analyzing your mistakes, discussing hands--those joyful moments will be even harder to come by. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't have goals and dreams. After all, I still want to win the WSOP Main Event one day. So much for not being results-oriented!

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Fatima Moreira De Melo is a PokerStars SportStar