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Match sharpness

Late last year, I started playing the game Football Manager again after over ten years. And I've been playing more of it in the past few weeks in the added time on hand due to the lockdown.

In the game, there is an attribute called 'match sharpness'. Even the best of players will not have a great game when they are low on match sharpness. And the match sharpness is an attribute that decays over time when a player is not involved in a match. Which means it is especially low when a player returns from a few weeks of injury as he hasn't played any matches during that time. So, rather than involve such players in matches directly, I have them play a game or two for the reserves until they regain their match sharpness and then start including them in the first team again.

Like match sharpness, most of our habits and skills start to deteriorate from the time we last used them. And the ease with which we can get it back to our normal highs depends on how much it has deteriorated.

Duolingo has the same concept. If I haven't done some lessons in a while, then the app asks me to do them again to regain my sharpness.

How sharp we are at anything determines how well we react to changes and adversity that come our way. The lower the sharpness, the more we will struggle to cope.

Extending this to leaders, they don't really influence the course of crises much during the times of the crises themselves. However, they do it much before in creating sharpness in the right areas - like having enough ventilators on hand, having the ability to give out relief packages, etc. What they can do in the time of crisis is very much curtailed by the sharpness they have built up beforehand.

Here's a passage from War and Peace that vaguely talks about this idea:

"In quiet and untroubled times, it seems to every administrator that it is only by his efforts that the whole population under his rule is kept going, and in this consciousness of being indispensable every administrator finds the chief reward of his labor and efforts. While the sea of history remains calm the ruler-administrator in his frail bark, holding it with a boat hook to the ship of the people and himself moving, naturally imagines that his efforts move the ship he is holding on to. But as soon as a storm arises and the sea begins to heave and the ship to move, such a delusion is no longer possible. The ship moves independently with its own enormous motion, the boat hook no longer reaches the moving vessel, and suddenly the administrator, instead of appearing a ruler and a source of power, becomes an insignificant, feeble man."

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