Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose and Sometimes it Rains
From the Archives, via May 10, 2013.
The story of David and Goliath is one of history’s greatest reruns—played out on repeat in books and boardrooms and battlefields.
Big Guy goes after Little Guy.
Little Guy finds inner strength.
Little Guy taps into inner strength.
Little Guy fights Big Guy.
Big Guy falters.
Little Guy knocks Big Guy’s lights out.
The David and Goliath story is the story of the “win.” Think Luke against Darth Vader, Daniel Larusso against the entire Cobra Kai dojo, and pretty much any Disney classic (insert any princess or talking animal against any evil witch or demented talking animal here.).
The opposite—the story of the lose—plays out in two forms: Little Guy goes after Big Guy and is squashed by Big Guy (think of all the companies Gordon Gekko crushed before being sent to jail) and Little Guy hides from Big Guy, only delaying Big Guy’s deathblow (think George McFly and Biff Tannen before Marty went back to the future).
Then there’s a third option—when David ignores Goliath and Goliath moves on. And it comes with the realization that David and Goliath don’t always have to face off in order for someone to “win”—and that the definitions of “win” and “lose” aren’t so clear cut.
There are a million great lines in the movie Bull Durham. One of my favorites:
This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while.
Think about it. There’s always a third option.
From time to time someone will write a nasty e-mail or comment on Steve’s site. When it first launched, there was one individual who kept me up at night, made me sick to my stomach. His nastiness knew no end—or so I thought.
As part of the group on the crap end of the stick, I felt like we were David and he was Goliath. He caused such pain to my thin skin that he became a Goliath in my mind—the bully. I was ready to throw stones, but a friend offered a bit of advice: Ignore him.
Easier said than done. If I didn’t shut this guy down, he’d win, right? And, I didn’t want to see him win.
But . . . We gave the friend’s advice a chance and Goliath went away. Every now and then a Doppelganger shows up and says something equally mean and insensitive, too. Whenever that happens, we insert a rain day and move on.
This third option is always available, but its so easy to look for the polar opposites—one vs the other, good vs evil, David vs Goliath.
From time to time I run into an author who wants to faceoff against Goliath. That’s his strategy for coming out on top as a winner.
The author wants to get into a debate with the talking head du jour and shut that talking head down.
And there’s a bit of danger to that. The danger is that the author, who sees himself as David, actually turns into a nasty Goliath himself.
For that author, a rain day is the best day.
In baseball, a rain day can be the difference between an injured player missing another game or making a comeback, and it plays into the pitching line-up too—one more day of rain equals one more day of rest for that starting pitcher.
For authors, it’s a day of rest, too. Yes, you should fight, be an advocate for yourself, but there’s a lot that goes into fighting. Step back and take a long-view of the battle. Is this one you really need to win? And what does a “win” mean? Or, can you accomplish your goals by taking a rain day? You won’t be running away. Just recouping, thinking about what’s important, picking your battles, thinking about different strategies.
That guy who had me reaching for Prilosec? From what I’ve heard, he’s a wanna-be author. While I always thought of him as Goliath, I’ve realized that he probably thought of himself as David, and looked at Steve as Goliath—an already published author who he wanted to take down. Ego wanted to fight him, but we said no. Let’s walk away. Let’s take a rain day.
We rested. He left. Our game continued with a refreshed lineup.
So sometime you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you take a rain day (and realize there’s a solid amount of winning to be done within those days, too).
A 1-Day Event With Steven Pressfield
Join an exclusive gathering for writers who are in the ring.