The pole position changes often.
Sometimes when we’re in a race and we see a competitor winning by a large margin we stop trying as hard. We figure, “there is no way I’ll ever catch up, so why bother doing my best?” This is a flawed mentality.
1) There are almost always variables in a race that could put you back in the lead. You may not foresee them, or they might be very unlikely, but if they swing in your favor, you will have wished you tried harder to stay close behind the lead.
2) If you give up early and just “phone in” the rest of the race, you’re also potentially losing out on learning from the experience. Assuming you race once again in the future, you want to make sure you’re getting more knowledge and experience from failed past attempts. If you stop trying during the race you’re currently in, you’re not taking advantage of the opportunity to best prepare yourself for the one that is next.
The Settlers of Catan is a perfect illustration of this reality. It’s a game that swings wildly and often in anyone’s direction. If you don’t play the best possibly strategy every turn and try to rack up as many points as you can, you may lose a shot at stealing the crown when the time is right.
Play to win, or don’t bother playing.