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).

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21 Comments

  1. Basilis on May 10, 2013 at 4:27 am

    I believe you are right. That person wanted to face a Goliath…

    Is that a compliment for Steve (and you as parnters), or what?

    🙂

  2. Consuelo Helbling on May 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Love it…reminds me of learning to choose my battles when raising my son…some issues just didn’t merit attention, while others needed the line drawn in the sand. By God’s grace…Kid turned out more than ok.

  3. Mariane on May 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Thank you. Rainy day is a nice way to put it, gives a softer ring and more positive vibrations – for me at least – than “just ignore it”… as sometimes things goes on that we definitely should not ignore? and perhaps the feeling of it not being ok to get trolled like this was a reminder to look into something itchy emotionally and to release that pain a tad bit more once again. Softly, like… treating oneself one does on a rainy day, curled up in a favourite chair with something nice and warm to drink and a blanket… reading something inspirational, thinking happy thoughts and feeling life embracing us… as the miracle it is. And then move on to remind the rest of us after that these things happens… and not to despair… ang make ourself the treat to treat it like one would a day with rain… ! so – thank you for Doing The Work;)

  4. antares on May 10, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Some you win, some you lose, some get rained out, but you gotta suit up for them all.

  5. S. J. Crown on May 10, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Yet another terrific insight from the world of sports fiction. Thanks Callie!

  6. Laura Sottile on May 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Oh Steve darling, I send you love after that poor loser!
    That green eyed monster be gone!

  7. The Portrait Artist on May 13, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Very inspirational — I’ll actually turn that movie quote into my desktop wallpaper.

    And very practical too. I remember how much of a pain it was dealing with the haters when they first showed up… it made me forget about all the praises and handshakes from people who loved what I do.

    As soon as I began ignoring them, as you recommend, they vanished. Although not answering to someone’s hateful remarks is no easy task.

  8. Cate on May 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Great advice, Callie. As someone who is just starting to put my work out there, I’ll try to keep this in mind 🙂

  9. Dora Sislian Themelis on May 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    As I read your David/Goliath story it reminded me of myself in my daily fight with “Mr. Resistance.” I paint, I stop, I think, I shuffle brushes, then I think I need to do website stuff, I paint again. Some days I win, and other days Resistance wins. But if I took a rain day, maybe I wouldn’t be left too bloody when the smoke cleared.

  10. TS on May 16, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I totally agree with the idea of a third option. I have been in numerous situations where you really have to take into consideration the who, stakes and situation. If you continue this argument, what will be the outcome? Will you look at ignorant as the one you are arguing with? “Never argue with an idiot because they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

  11. Matt on May 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Analogy in the software world: In a presentation today (complex software solution), one lower level decision maker who prefers a competitor was determined to highlight a specific flaw, in his mind, of our solution — what happens if your solution fails or goes down? Everyone knows that this possibility exists for any technology — it might break, thus this isn’t really a flaw but a contingency one must plan for regardless. He was grasping for straws, and was being blatant in his bias for the competing solution. I checked my ego’s desire to put him in his place aggressively, and remained calm answering each attempted to derail the presentation and left him huffing and puffing. Ego suppression success!

  12. Elise Allan on November 30, 2018 at 6:41 am

    I love this post, Callie. It’s not taking it personally. Holding the possibility that the aggressor is having a hard time with their inner critic, and is wanting to fight it externally. Holding the possibility that they can’t actually take anything of value away from us. Thank you!

  13. Gwen Abitz on November 30, 2018 at 6:44 am

    So, so TRUE, Callie , As I am FIRST reading 5 1/2 years later. THANK YOU for going into the Archives.

    • Gwen Abitz on November 30, 2018 at 6:51 am

      PS: Personal Comment: Maybe “politicians” need to DROP THE EGO and think about. “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.”

  14. Lyn Blair on November 30, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Oh…Callie. I couldn’t agree with you more. Just got to the other side of this mountain myself. An SEO guy started editing my copy. I guess I was his Goliath. He didn’t pick on the other writer, just me. At first I let my ego engage. It was going to be a battle of the egos. Big mistake. I’m not really a confrontational person and the insanity of engaging soon became apparent. When two egos fight, no one really ever wins. So, my rain day was to take a step back and realize the craziness of it all. I’m treating the guy how I would want to be treated and now his barbs don’t hurt. They don’t even seem like barbs, but are more like poorly shot arrows that are missing the mark. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. Bask in all you have to be grateful for instead. It’s a much better game to play.

  15. BarbaraNH on November 30, 2018 at 8:07 am

    Great reminder, on an actual rainy day. It just boggles my imagination that anyone would want to fight or badmouth you guys – you are the best! Generous. Wise. Thanks for every week.

  16. Bethany Reid on November 30, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Rain rain rain. As someone or other said, There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing? Thanks for the reminder!

  17. Jay Cadmus on November 30, 2018 at 9:34 am

    When I read this resurrected piece, I thought of the comments I’d made on this site; and, in email directly to you and Mr. Pressfield. I didn’t keep them for proof on connection or to recheck comments made. However, I trust that anything I might have written didn’t fall into one of the possible negative categories you mentioned. As a writer, I am no Goliath – having the utmost respect for what you, Mr. Steve and Black Irish Enterprises do in promotion of art. When (and where) there is possibility of offense, we should go to that individual (or, entity) to make the offer of amends. Though I don’t think of myself as a “David,” I have slayed a few dragons; while realizing that there is nothing terribly special about me as the attacker or defender. Nowhere near becoming a king of any state.. Yet, I have slid back between the sheets to take a “rain day.” Enjoy the two-a-week posts we receive under the Steven Pressfield banner. Hope my musing is not too far off topic….

  18. Daniel J. Stutzman on November 30, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Great advice, thank you, Callie.

  19. Joe Jansen on November 30, 2018 at 11:44 am

    That dude. I won’t trigger your gastroesophageal reflux by recounting my recollections (other than I remember him saying that “Cormac McCarthy was a crap writer,” which made me snort-laugh). I know some folks who can’t stop themselves from jousting with trolls. So good-on-ya for practicing what I like to call VOODOO: Verbal Offensiveness Occlusion (thru) Deprivation of Oxygen.

    Good encore post.

  20. Jerry Ellis on December 1, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    Lovely and insightful, Callie. Thank you. I have recently been thinking a lot about another myth that involves a stone. (David with stone in slingshot, right?) My stone is actually a boulder, the one Sisyphus was condemned to forever push BACK up the side of the mountain. This is not always a bad thing…

    Keep up the great series!

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