They're no team players. It's hard to accomplish something together. They cop out when the going gets tough. They're evasive They don't address any issues. They're cheating, lying and betraying, from dusk 'till dawn.
About 2,300 years ago
...Alexander the Great was facing an intriguing challenge: the Gordian Knot. He was well aware of its history and the prophecy associated with it:
At one time the Phrygians were without a legitimate king. An oracle at Telmissus [...] decreed that the next man to enter the city driving an ox-cart should become their king. This man was a poor peasant, Ahmidas son of Gordias, who drove his parents into town on his father's ox-cart. [...]
In gratitude, he dedicated the ox-cart to the Phrygian god Sabazios and either tied it to a post or tied its shaft with an intricate knot of cornel (Cornus mas) bark. An oracle further prophesied that the one to untie the knot would become the king of Asia (today's Asia Minor).
The rules of the game seemed to be clear. Nobody was able to untie the knot, however. Except for Alexander. His solution: he sliced the knot in half with a stroke of his sword.
Wasn't that cheating, to the extreme?
Well... would twiddling the threads have convinced anybody of his leadership skills? Would it have shocked the Persian king? Or was that stroke of the sword an important, even necessary part of the solution? A clear message by a person who could tell the essential from the insignificant?
Think about it: By how many rules do you abide that don't get you anywhere? Rules that move your goals beyond reach? Rules that were designed to disorient you?
515 years ago
Columbus was dining with many Spanish nobles when one of them said: «Sir Christopher, even if your lordship had not discovered the Indies, there would have been, here in Spain which is a country abundant with great men knowledgeable in cosmography and literature, one who would have started a similar adventure with the same result.»
Columbus did not respond to these words but asked for a whole egg to be brought to him. He placed it on the table and said: «My lords, I will lay a wager with any of you that you are unable to make this egg stand on its end like I will do without any kind of help or aid.»
They all tried without success and when the egg returned to Columbus, he tapped it gently on the table breaking it slightly and, with this, the egg stood on its end. All those present were confounded and understood what he meant: that once the feat has been done, anyone knows how to do it.
Not a big deal? Was Columbus cheating?
Or is it rather what Mór Jókai summarized like this: «Research means to see what everybody else is seeing, but to think what no one else has been thinking before.»?
Think about it: Which rules keep your thinking in a box? Can you tell games from reality? Where would you need to take a step back, in order to see you are trapped in a game that follows certain rules?
145 years ago
Europeans don't get baseball. People in the US don't get soccer. So, just for my personal amusement, let me vex you with the soccer rule of the offside.
Actually, it is pretty simple. As a soccer player, you're not allowed to hang about directly in front of your opponent's goal, get passed the ball and score. That would be too simple. When you get passed the ball, there must be at least one field player of the other team between you and the goal. Such are the rules.
And they're pretty old as well:
As football developed in the 1860s and 1870s, the offside law proved the biggest argument between the clubs. Sheffield got rid of the «kick throughs» by amending their laws so that one member of the defending side was required between a forward player and the opponent's goal; the Football Association also compromised slightly and adopted the Cambridge idea of three. (From Wikipedia)
Now imagine you're a clever field player, paying attention to always have an opponent's field player between you and the goal, in order not to be offside when you get passed the ball.
All of a sudden, the opponent's team runs away from their own goal, as one, and you end up alone there, like a fish left dry by the low tide. It happened the very second one of your teammates was passing the ball to you. You've guessed it by now: you're now offside. This «low tide» strategy is aptly called the offside trap.
Well... that's not what the original offside rule was meant for, is it? Quite nasty exploitation of that rule, isn't it?
Think about it: Which rules have been made up against you but can be used for your benefit? Don't always look for legal loopholes only. Instead, figure out where the rules also apply, even unexpectedly.
20 years ago
In 1986, on what seemed like just another training day, Jan Bokloev was in serious trouble. He had to master a challenge within a fraction of a second, otherwise he'd stall at full speed and crash into the ground. Which is never very funny, especially when you're a ski jumper like Jan.
Bokloev said goodbye to elegance («Parallel skis! Parallel skis!») and spread wide open his skiers so they formed a V-shape. He avoided the crash. And he was dazzled to find out that he could even jump farther this way.
The experts didn't like this V-style at all. They said it looked ghastly. And as judges, they reduced Jan's style score points heavily, in every competition. But Bokloev didn't give up. After two years of practice, he could jump farther than anybody else. And since scoring was based both on style and distance, he started to win. Today, all top ski jumpers in the world rely on the V-style.
Well... Bokloev jumped so far that style simply didn't matter that much anymore, as a criterion. Did he game the system?
Think about it: Do you give in to Naysayers too much? Do you suffer from a system of beliefs like this one: «1. We have never done it that way! 2. We have always done it that way! 3. Who do you think you are!»
Do you know Tim Ferriss? He ran a bet that he could win a medal at the national Chinese kickboxing championships. And he won.
Not by kickboxing, though. Weigh-ins were the day prior to competition. By dehydration, he lost about 28 pound before that. The night before the matches, he hyperhydrated back to 193 pounds. He simply hustled his opponents off the mat.
Unsportsmanlike? At least, there is a lot of Tim-bashing, like here.
Think about it: Which traditional rules do not actually make sense? Wich ones have gigantic loopholes? «Everything popular is wrong», says Oscar Wilde. Is it really abuse of a well-aged rule or is that rule just crude, despite its age?
Today, at your place?
What do you think about bending rules creatively, for your own benefit? Tell us in a comment below!