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A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

LESSONS FROM ROWING: THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS

"It would be useless to try to segregate outstanding members of [the crew], just as it would be impossible to try to pick a certain note in a beautifully composed song.  All were merged into one smoothly working machine; they were, in fact, a poem of motion, a symphony of swinging blades."  extracted from 'THE BOYS IN THE BOAT', Daniel James Brown.

I have always rated rowing as the greatest team sport on earth.  Put together a crew of four or eight of the strongest, fittest individuals you can find and let them all row for themselves.  Despite their lesser physical prowess, a crew of lightweights -  15kg - 20 kg per man smaller - will  thrash the big guys if they are rowing together and for each other.

There is no room in a rowing boat for ego's or individuals.   It will not help the cause of the crew one iota if you pull with the hardest power, have the longest reach, but fail to stay in time and rhythm with everyone else.  And everyone knows when someone in the boat is out to prove something, or is not pulling his or her weight, or is focused anywhere other than 100% in the boat and on fellow crew members.

We see plenty of individualism on our planet and often marvel at individual achievements, but when we see teams and countries pulling for each other and subsuming their own interests for the good of the whole (think cycling teams on the Tour d'France, think England hosting the Olympics or South Africa the Football World Cup, think New Zealand rugby) ego's disappear and the teams achieve greatness.

The whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts, when the parts all play their part for the good of the whole.

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