1. Success is a Slow Process
It is not a lottery ticket, it is not a windfall gain, it is not bungee jumping, it is not a sprint. It is a trek, it is a marathon. More often than not, the road to success is bland and boring. To try and shape the process otherwise could lead to premature burnout. It happens very frequently with the ambitious and the intelligent. Plodding cannot be overemphasized even for the ambitious and intelligent. Success is its own reward. But if you want to spice up the journey, break it down into sub-projects and sub-goals, and enjoy the achievement of each milestone.
In some respects, yesterday’s match was somewhat slow and unexciting. Only 6 wickets fell for Sri Lanka and only 4 for India. Jayawardene went on and on. The two crucial partnerships that built India’s innings (Gambhir + Kohli; Kohli + Dhoni) didn’t have many fireworks; just slow, steady run-making. And that is what, in the end, piled up the runs that won us the match.
2. Consistency is the Key
It is better to have consistent above-average successes rather than one big success at the beginning or one big one at the end. Consistent performance throughout the lifetime of the project is more important than starting with a bang or ending with a slog. The pressure is evenly distributed and your reaching your goal is more assured.
The two big partnerships displayed amazing consistency of scoring. They made up for the lack of big boundaries with several, well-earned singles, doubles and triples. This consistent run-making is what helped not put pressure on the batsmen in the later stages, when they could’ve been more error-prone. It was important that the team did not repeat the domino effect of previous matches.
3. Have a Well-balanced Team
It is better to have several above-average team members rather than one or two high-performers. Depending too much on high performers is risky. They could leave you anytime. And there may not be anyone to take their place. It is better to have several above-average performers in your team and train them to become high-performers. Your risk is spread out and the increased average performance will add to total performance in time.
Even though we lost the openers in the early overs, thanks to our batting depth, we were able to recover from that setback. Gambhir and Kohli reclaimed the innings brilliantly. But also, we cannot underestimate the fantastic, textbook fielding that our team showed yesterday. They must have saved us at least 50 crucial runs. This is the kind of balance that every team must have.
4. Follow Your Training
Textbooks and training lessons are there because they teach us how to do things. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the best leaders are the ones who are able to follow their training when under tremendous pressure. Many a men have buckled under pressure by compromising their education and succumbing to their emotions. Being impulsive in a crunch situation is only going to make you error-prone. The leader must tune out all noises in his/her head and just follow his/her training.
Everyone knows that Dhoni is a big hitter. Where were the big hits yesterday? They were missing because under pressure, Dhoni did the right thing –– build the innings. He played regular, careful cricket, piling up runs, strengthening India’s scorecard. He relied on his training and strategy sessions to do what he has learned to do.
5. Silence the Expectations
As a leader, you must only think of the goal and not about the expectations of your peers and bosses. Expectations are one goal multiplied by several voices. And this multitude of voices may cloud your judgement. It is best to set your own standards and work toward the goal.
This principle was displayed by the captain brilliantly. Despite the fortunes of the nation pressing down on his shoulders, Dhoni’s judgement was crystal clear. He didn’t let the expectations of a billion make him act impulsively or become nervous.
6. Nerves that Twang and Balls that Clang
Courage is a great quality to have in a leader. Courage allows the leader to take daring risks. Courage allows a person to silence the noise of expectations, take decisions that really matter, stop unforced errors, command respect of the team and peers. The catch is that not everyone is equally courageous. Courage is an in-born quality that is built on the foundation of strong principles and unyielding will power. You may not be very courageous, but everyone knows what courage looks like. So, if you think you lack in this department, the next best thing is to ‘act’ courageous and deal with your jitters in private. At least it would have the desired impact on your team.
Fortune favours the brave. It favoured M.S. Dhoni yesterday, when he promoted himself up in the order to take on the responsibility of building the score. It takes balls to face the challenge head on, especially under the kind of pressure that the Indian public can exert on its cricketers. Dhoni was cool as cucumber, almost cocking a snook at us all! But he did it for us. Perhaps, he has more steel in him than all of us put together.
7. Failure is a Clarion Call
Failure at any stage is a call to action. It tells you that it\’s time to tighten your belt and roll up your sleeves. It\’s a heads-up to an opportunity to undo the mistakes you\’ve been committing. Failures are perhaps more common than successes and the path to success is a series of course corrections.
The dramatic collapse of the batting order in our match against South Africa indicated to Dhoni that players are unable to take pressure and stick to the wicket. The course correction showed result yesterday when the top order, despite the early departures of Sachin and Sehwag, plodded diligently to ensure that the middle order does not face the pressure.
8. Do It for the Special Person in Your Life
We all have a special person in our life. It could be our parents, our spouse, our best friend, or children. It could even be a colleague or a senior you look up to. If your own ambitions and self-actualization needs fall short, then think of that special person in your life. Think how you will add value to that person’s life. Think how you will make her/him happy. Imagine how your effort/contribution connects you with her/him more strongly and at a deeper level. There can be no greater reward than the love, affection and respect of your loved ones and peers.
The Indian team did it for the very special person –– Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. There couldn’t have been a bigger motivation.
9. Destiny Plays a Role
I don’t know how to prove it through this world cup, but destiny does play a role –– sometimes minor, but always there. A few missed catches, a few opportune wickets, a fortunate match fixture, a timely advice, an untimely injury –– the chance element, the probability factor is always lurking in the shadows. And the only way to keep her on your side is to train well and act courageous.