Fighters are groomed to be champions all the time. Novice fighters routinely enter the ring with other fighters who are ranked just at or below their current standings in order to learn under less strenuous conditions and boost confidence from winning. This ensures steady learning and a string of victories, both of which seem can increase motivation.
The same thing is done in horse racing. New horses whose owners hope to be champions some day often race against competition that they are almost sure to beat. The owners want them to lead the pack and know what it feels like to exert dominance. As the horses get more experience, the difficulty level of the competition is increased.
Small Pond Mentality
"Fail early, fail often."
I'm unable to find who this quote is attributed to and I'm willing to bet it's anonymous anyhow. It seems to be picking up steam in innovation circles and schools. According to many, success may even depend on failure. I'm not sure I agree. Failure can also be crushing. Putting a novice fighter in the ring with Mike Tyson and having them fail is not a great way to teach them anything other than the fact that they are clearly outgunned.
So without trying to reinvent the wheel or coin a new phrase, I'll simply call my opposing sentiment the "Small Pond Mentality". It relates to the strategies noted above that both prize fighters and prize horses use to make their way all the way to the winner's circle and is a view that isn't much in favor at the moment, or at the very least not discussed.
"Go to a four-year college after high school."
This a quote I've literally heard dozens of times from teachers, counselors, parents, and advice gurus aimed at students. It has never sat well with me. It intimates that going to a four-year college out of high school makes you a success and that anything less is a failure on somebody's part (the student's, school's, or parent's).
However, this jump from high school to an undergraduate degree rewarding university may be too large a jump in pond size for many. Even those that are obviously ready for a university setting should probably take the advice of "go to the best school you get into" with care. Going to college after high school is about growing and developing yourself into a valuable member of society who has something to offer. The finishing point is what really matters, not the starting point.
A Thought Experiment
What's better? Going to a second tier university straight out of high school or a community college for two years and then transferring to a first tier university to finish?
Is it better to go to a first tier university that grades on a curve where you graduate with a 2.8 GPA and no shot at medical school or a second tier university with no curved grades where you can finish with a 3.8 GPA and strong chance at acceptance to medical school?
I ask these questions because I've seen both happen in real life to good friends. People I knew in high school went to community college for two years and then transferred to UCLA to finish and have the degree hanging on their wall. Others went to a UC straight out of high school where they earned over 90% in classes graded on curves only to receive a C or D grade because they were the little fish in a big pond.
No one cares where you start. Society only rewards where you finish. Sometimes going to a top 20 university isn't the best decision for your future even when you have been accepted. It often makes more sense to be the biggest fish in whatever pond you choose and let that pond expand over time. As you grow and develop, you will naturally find yourself in bigger fields of competition. There is no reason to get knocked out in your first fight. Win a few, gain confidence, learn, stay motivated.
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
The Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect: Persistent Negative Effects of Selective High Schools on Self-Concept After Graduation