Innocent Climbs and …

Simon Kuper has written about José Mourinho in the Financial Times today (link). The article is titled How José Mourinho failed to reinvent himself as football evolved. It contains this chart:

Elijah Meeks observed:

Simon’s article and the visualisation sent me off to look for my copy of Pat Riley’s The Winner Within (link). Chapter 1 of the book discusses an innocent climb. Pat suggests:

When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort – it is ready to climb. (1993:31)

He concludes:

A team in an Innocent Climb can feel the power surging, so internal rivalries, turf wars, and selfish behaviour patterns are set aside. (1993:37)

The and … part of the title is Chapter 2 of Paul’s book: The Disease of Me. The chapter starts with a quote from James Basford “it requires a strong constitution to withstand repeated attacks of prosperity”. It ends with this summary:

The Innocent Climb – success through unselfishness – has been shattered by the Disease of Me. The team is awash with petty rivalries. Greed and resentment eat away at the team’s togetherness and undermine its ability to collaborate. Factions divide the loyalties within the team. Personal performance slides. No matter how fast an Innocent Climb uplifted a team, the Disease of Me cuts it down even quicker. (1993:54)

The chart in Simon’s article is a powerful indicator of rise and fall. I have not seen that use of ELO ratings before. My own record of this season is much more basic.

I have been tracking each EPL team in the context of their position in last season’s league table. Grey indicates results as expected by ranking. Gold is an unexpected win or draw. Red is an unexpected loss or draw. There are three Xs in my graphic that indicate managerial change. (Note Manchester City are in red. As champions last season they cannot have any gold games. Promoted teams have an opportunity to have gold success because of their ranking. Wolves have been the standout team in this matrix. Their one red event was the week 14 defeat at Cardiff.) The matrix indicated early on that Manchester United were having some difficulties.

Synoptic Vision, James Hansen and Tony Fitzgerald

It has been a busy week for me but it has been bracketed by two remarkable Radio National items. On my drive into Canberra early in the week I heard a delightful interview between Phillip Adams and James Hansen.

The podcast is trailed with this summary:

A discussion with the prominent NASA climate scientist about his journey of scientific discovery, the gradual process by which he became convinced of the science of global warming, and how he believes scientists need to address current public doubt.

On Thursday, on my drive home, there was a fascinating report on PM about Tony Fitzgerald‘s commentary on the state of Australian government. The transcript of the program includes these introductory remarks:

  • The community is ill served by this escalating transfer of power from the public to the dominant political parties and the party’s disinterest in ethical constraints and resistance to oversight and accountability even by independent anti-corruption bodies.
  • Without satisfactory legal and ethical fetters, the political process like all human constructs can be and is manipulated and exploited to advance personal and group interests.
  • A political class has evolved which is interested in little but the acquisition and exercise of power.

A transcript of Tony’s Fitzgerald speech can be found here on the Accountability Round Table website.

The combination of both programs left me wondering how an open society might bring about change that goes beyond what Pat Riley describes as the disease of me: “the disease of me starts when people start behaving selfishly, believing that they are more important than the team”. They left me wondering too about the kind of biographical experiences James and Tony have had to lead them to such remarkable synoptic vision.

I wondered how in a return to innocence we might be able to use such profound insights to transform our practice, our environment and our lives. I wondered too about if we can ever overcome the Tragedy of the Commons and celebrate the joy of a Common Wealth and celebrate the innocent climb.

Photo Credits

Mike Baird Coastguard

Steve Took It Spring

Cyron Water is Life