How Many 5-Year Olds Would It Take To Kick Your Ass?


Kids are mean.  Kids are resilient.  But kids also travel in packs.  And packs, as we know from nature, can swarm and overtake a larger foe.  So how many of those little guys would it take to swarm you?  (According to this website, my answer is 19.)

Real Madrid got a first hand lesson in this line of questioning when, in celebration of the 109 year history, they took on 109 Chinese children on the pitch.  I’m not saying these kids were five, but close enough.  Check out the video below.  To be clear, the pros are the ones in the yellow vests.  They are also twice the size of the children, but I guess the vests were important, too.


Some of my favorite moments…

1:00 – A Real player gets the ball, and is swarmed by a group of children.  They have no skill to steal the ball, but they can sure obstruct.  And they do.

1:25 – A player starts getting overrun and straight up shoves a child away from the ball.  All in good fun, I’m sure.  His teammates were laughing, so I’m sure it was fine.

1:44 – Real resorts to trickery to score a goal.  Trickery.  By professional athletes.  Against children.

2:37 – A child is nearly decapitated by a crossing pass.  That leads to a goal.  I assume the other children were distracted by their teammate’s cry for mercy.

3:50 – The children go on the offensive, and almost score a swarm goal.  They came closer than some pro teams I’ve seen.

4:25 – Fearing they will soon be overrun, a Real player slide tackles a lone child.  This is followed by Real attempting to move the ball downfield using only their heads, keeping the ball far away from the kids.

5:10 – The Real goalie begins making ugly faces.  109 voices inform him his face might just freeze that way.

6:31 – The video mysteriously ends in  mid-play.  We can only imagine what happened next.  I’m thinking the kids had enough of soccer, went feral and attacked.

The lesson for the kids here is that adults are bigger, stronger, faster, and will always win.  Good thing to get out of the way early, I guess.

OK, so this is a bit silly.  But the same thing happens everyday in our professional lives.  It’s rarely the big boulder coming down the hill that crushes you.  You’ll see that one coming and avoid it or, possibly, shove someone else in its path.  Instead, the danger is the little things.  The team member who doesn’t know when it’s not their time to talk.  The manager who won’t answer your email until long after the question is relevant.  The one fluorescent bulb above your desk that won’t stop flickering.  They, more than the boulder, are the ones that knock you down and take your lunch money.  And they show up more days than not.

How do you deal with it?  I think the first step is to not kid yourself about the problem.  You may think you can just suck it up and plow through, but sooner or later it will take a toll on you.  That’s what really causes burnout, I think.  Not the long hours or the tough projects.

It’s the little things that will get you.


  1. Such a great analogy to get the point across. It’s a lot easier to address small issues when they are discovered. It’s like a leaky pipe, some people fix a small leak right away, while others put duct tape over top or stick a bucket underneath it and will “get to it later” – but later is usually when the pipe explodes.

    • Indeed. The little leak is a problem, but so it that piece of tape. As someone once told me (and experience has validated repeatedly), there is nothing as permanent as a temporary solution.

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