So here we are 2012! May I wish to ALL AND SUNDRY, the Very Best for 2012. For 2012 I’ll work on having more respondents. I am informed the requirement of an e-mail address to make comments may be a problem here. While this does slow spam, it may jar some readers. I would like to hear your views on this.  I had meant to present the post below in December 2011, but its focus on relationships makes it a great guide for 2012 – recognizing and respecting our inter-relationships.


Verse 2

Earlier I pointed out that jewels  were embedded throughout the School song and that pretty sure that my Headmaster (Sarcies)  must have frequently sighed at the thought of pearls seemingly going to waste. Of course, lustily singing together served the purpose of making one voice that said “GBSS”; and that in itself was good.

On contemplation, this second verse of the Song speaks of relationships, casting this in the understandable mode of sports and competition. But there is more.

“The also-ran and the champion,
Each one can but do his best;
The winner’s display depends on
The efforts of all the rest.
To be in the van is not all,
For each has to play his role.”

The team wins the match at football
Though one man must kick the goal.”

Very often in competition, we do not stop to think of our relationships to one another – we think of the champions and also-rans., without seeing the relationship of one to the other. At school in Athletics, I always liked the system of “Standard House Points”, in which average students were given the opportunity to contribute. The average boys exerted themselves to make a single point; theoretically a Houses with a huge total before Sports Day had a theoretical advantage, useful if the champions of the other Houses failed on Sports Day.  This was important to them and to the individual House, champions notwithstanding.

There is a real relationship established between champion and also-rans for which also-rans should, but do not get credit. Anyone remember the purpose of a ‘rabbit’ in long distance races? It was to set a pace for a faster overall performance? But I hardly heard praise for this job, given its importance to the overall standard and pace of the race. My bet is that without rabbits most of these races would be slower, even with the same jockeying for positions.

Does the winner’s display really depend on the efforts of the rest? I think so even though the tendency is to interpret speed or strength as inherent displays. In truth, the winner is always spurred on by the efforts of other racers. This speaks to the wider relationship we have among ourselves as human beings. At work or play, or even in recreation, there’s nothing we do that is not spurred on by another human being or relationship. Think about it. I carry the following adaptation from a quote by Albert Schweitzer: “We should all be thankful for those people who [kindle our] inner spirit.”

I feel strongly about recognizing the relationship for what it is worth. I recall long years ago a performance evaluation at which the employee was strutting his accomplishments stating that the other employees had not done what he had done, etc., etc. I gave him some pause by indicating that we should then reduce his scores, and give that to the others who had in fact “made him look good”. I further recall, as a Referee at Inter-Col sports, threatening a very good runner with disqualification if he continued to throw his relay baton up in the air behind him as he crossed the finish line. Not only was the action dangerous to others, but I found it quite disdainful of the other athletes who had pushed him into winning.

We all have our parts to play, including igniting the inner spirit and skill of others to win, nic4ely brought out in a recent ‘Neverland Series’ – a would-be young leader (not an Indian) tries for ascendancy in his group by seeking to lure along a set path  so  the Indian tribe they live with could kill it for food. When the alligator approached, he panicked with fear, and froze. The Chief’s young son then jumps down, and at great risk runs the alligator along the path to its death. The Chief then tells the ‘wannabe’ leader that a year earlier his son froze just as he did. He then pointedly thanked the youngster for his fear (he should be proud of it) as had induced the courage of his son to ‘make a winner’s display’ on this occasion. I liked that one.

I also like the last two lines of the Song for the simplicity of the truth they contain. Individual players do not win team matches; and any such compliment is invariably modified by the term “for his team”.  There is a fundamental teaching lesson here. Again, it is about teamwork and relationships.

The moral: in life, recognize and be grateful to your competitor or fellow-employee  if those persons push you to your best. And in group work, it is always the team that wins, no matter the size of the individual contribution.

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8 Responses to

  1. Michael Henry says:

    This blog is fantastic!! The guys I went to GBSS (1996-2001)with pushed me and I them. We are who we are today because if each other. And we are still close in this northern age of social media and the bonds formed at the great GBSS will never be broken. We see each other as brothers for all the good and shenanigans we did at school. Whenever we meet up we reflect on those molding days and sing the school song. It’s good to see that we are affected by the song and rememeber our interactions with Mr. Ashby and our teachers like you do with your headmaster and teachers. I will look for the book on Amazon as I have always wondered what the previous generations were like.

  2. James Patterson says:

    You may not have intended it but this is a brilliant psychological, or perhaps sociological, analysis that jolted me out of cerebral complacency and into my ‘eureka’ moment. A more detailed commentary on the book itself follows by E mail.


    • Bobby says:

      James, I am looking forward to your comments; the blog is highly complimentart to the book, and taken together they provide (I believe) much food for thought. Share at will.

  3. Olive James says:

    I love the expression “also-rans”, because it focuses on the actual participation of other members of the team, who should be recognized not only for their participation in the particular activity; but for contributing to fostering healthy group dynamics. The success of the victor often depends not only on well appreciated raw talent and effort; but also on the qualities of openness, trust and sacrifice of the “also-rans”.

    • Bobby says:

      Olive, you are so right on the qualities; with these, the also-rans push the winner to energise his/her latent talent.

  4. Rachel says:

    I don’t know if I have thought of this aspect of relationship in a long while. The idea of being pushed by either competitor or team mate seems obvious…but not so obvious in the victory (at least to me personally).

    I must admit my own recent breakthroughs in an understudy role came just when another young woman was brought in to learn the role. As we rehearsed together the need to heighten and excel in the role took over…and carried through to the stage.

    Reading this I am left truly realizing we are nothing without our relationships, whatever context they may be. I’m not a champion without someone to lose…

    • Judy L says:

      Hmmm…too true Rach.

    • Bobby says:

      Well, Rach, in your last line I would see it this way – I am not a champion without some person (or incident) pushing me to meet the requirements to be a champion. If the other person wins, I must be able to claim having pushed him/her on to do so. There is mutuality – remmeber the ‘winner’ is being pushed by others, but the winner is also challenging the others to pass him. In my younger days I was known as a hard hitter of cricket balls, and a hard kicker of footballs. My thesis was that, a catch or a save from those shots should always be ‘hard’ and ‘a good one’, meriting a congratulatory ‘nice catch’ or ‘nice save’. I recognized in the effort that both team-mates and competitors pushed me, and I pushed them.

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