23 October 2015

Combine the energies, dear rebel

This is the fifty first (and last) in a series of articles on rebels and rebellion written for the FREE section of 'The Nation'. Scroll to the end for other articles in this series.  'FREE' is dedicated to youth and youthfulness.

You hear this a lot in cricket commentaries.  It was Michael Holding who used the term most frequently.  He would say, if a batting side was not doing enough in the middle in an ODI, ‘someone has to come to the party’.  Sometimes, someone does.  A game-changer.  

The problem is that you can’t really count on ‘someone’ doing the honors in the case of a rebellion.  Sure, there are match-winners like Muttiah Muralitharan, but by and large battles are rarely won singlehandedly.  

There are individuals with that extra something by way of endowments. There are sharp-shooters, people with extraordinary reserves of determination and such.  They do count.  They can make a difference.  On the other hand, expecting the ‘exceptional’ to get you out of a hole or deliver victory indicate bad and incomplete preparation.  

It’s like putting all your eggs in a single basket.  If the person carrying it trips, you lose all the eggs.  That can happen.  

Think of the great cricket teams, for example the West Indies in the eighties.  They had a seemingly inexhaustible pool of quicks.  After Andy Roberts there was the foursome quartet Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner.  If one of them was injured there were others like Sylvester Clarke ready to breathe fire.  Later there was Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.  You could think of the Australian ‘academy’ of great batsman too or India’s spinners in the early 1970s. 

Such resources are luxuries that rebels rarely have.  In any case, if you rely too much on an individual he/she invariably gets overworked and burns out.  Michael Jordan would readily say, for example, that his individual brilliance would not have helped the Chicago Bulls win so many basketball titles if he didn’t have Scottie Pippen and the rest of the support staff including coach Phil Jackson.  

It’s a long journey and one or few people cannot carry the entire army across the finishing line.  Pick the right individual for the specific job by all means, but remember that one individual cannot be employed in multiple operations.  The more efficient way is to look to maximize the output of combined energy.  

If you want another sporting example, think of the ‘rolling maul’ used by the rugby team of Royal College this season.  Sure, it’s one individual that scores the try, but it is the team that gets him to the try line.

Sampath Agalawatte, the captain of Royal’s invincible team of 1984 puts it well: ‘It was all about 14 players working together to make sure that the 15th will score a try.’  It doesn’t always work in reverse.  

Other articles in this series
Think of roots and wings
The sun will never set
When the enemy expands consider inflation
When you are the last one standing
Targets visible and targets unidentified
When you have to vote
So when are you planning to graduate?
The belly of the beast is addictive
When you meet pomposity, flip the script
When did you last speak with an old man?
Dear Rebel, please keep it short
Get ready for those setbacks
The rebel must calculate or perish
Are you ready to deceive?
Dear Rebel, 'P' is also for 'Proportion' 
Dear Rebel, have you got the e-factor out of the way?
Have you carefully considered the f-word?
It is so easy to name the enemy, right?
The p-word cuts both ways
Cards get reflected in eyes, did you know?
It's all about timing 
Heroes and heroism are great, but...
Recruiting for a rebellion
The R, L and H of 'Rebellion'
Pack in 'Humor' when you gather rebellion-essentials
When the enemy is your best friend
The MSM Principle of Engagement
Dear Rebel, get some creature-tips!
Dear Rebel, get through your universities first
Read the enemies' Bibles
Poetry, love and revolution
Are you ready to shut down your petrol shed
The details, the details!
Know your comrades
Good to meditate on impermanence.
Time is long, really long
Learn from the termites 
Be warned: the first victory is also the first defeat
Prediction is asking for trouble
Visualize, strategize and innovate
How important is authority?
Don't forget to say 'Hello!'
It's not over until you clean up!
Have you met 'PB' of Alutwela?
Are you sure about those selfies?
Power and principles
'Few does not mean 'weak'