Hustle beats skill

“We tell ourselves that skill is the precious resource and effort is the commodity. It’s the other way around. Effort can trump ability. . . because relentless effort is in fact something rarer than the ability to engage in some finely tuned act of motor coördination.”

So wrote Malcolm Gladwell in his article, “How David Beats Goliath.”

Most of the article is about how a full-court press in basketball (when a team guards the other team the entire time instead of just on one side of the court) helps underdogs win.

I agree. The whole purpose of the full-court press is to throw off the opponent. Coaches might say the press is risky because it can lose to skilled passes or dribbling. I agree here as well.

To a point. Yes, passes and dribbling can beat the press, but that neglects one important on-court difficulty: chaos (and the fear that comes with it).

Yes, if a team thinks clearly, it can destroy a press. But in the heat of the game, in the thick of chaos, clear thinking is extremely difficult.

So the underdog, the team with less raw talent, wins because it out hustles (and out chaoses) its opponent.

That’s why creative thinkers (and doers) win. It’s not because they have a ton of raw talent. It’s because they know how to leverage chaos in their favor.

(Or perhaps more accurately, they know how to leverage what chaos produces: fear.)

And they do it by out hustling the opponent. As Malcolm put it, they’ll do what’s “socially horrifying” to win.