i Editor's Letter: 'Striving'


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The Independent Online


Such wags, you i readers. Dave Payn, Richard Morris and others tweeted in response to my letter about Sturgeon's Law that by the same reckoning 90% of i is "crap" too. Discuss, as they used to say at school. You'll be the judge.

We know only that we intend to "be the best we can be" (by deadline time) every day. If this sounds like an "earnest attack", then so be it. It's the kind of statement Americans utter freely but we Brits find discomforting. Certainly, my first job in New York City a decade ago came complete with the founders' pre-war "homespun" aphorisms framed on the wall, and a dress code, whose highlights included no open-toed shoes for women and no lycra for men. Working for a Midwest-based company was a daily challenge to a British sensibility that believed in the dual supremacy of those ubiquitous British traits: cynicism and sarcasm.

Living in the USA, still the land of the possible, and age have changed me. Cynicism is overrated, sarcasm doubly so. A friend says people can be divided into two types: radiators and drains. With every year that passes, I value the radiators more.

What's my point? My other fascination this week is the philosophy of Dave Brailsford, the lauded coach of the Team Sky and Team GB cycling teams. The "accumulation of marginal gains" is not as sexy as "reach for the stars", or similar mottos, but like the Japanese philosophy of kaizen (improvement) it's less woolly and therefore comprehensible. This absolutely does not mean that it is easier to achieve. The challenge lies in the true meaning of that abused word, "striving".