The entire nation of India was transfixed from February 19, 2011 when the “Men In Blue” led by M S Dhoni opened against Bangaldesh to April 02, 2011 when they closed against Sri Lanka. Further driving home the point that the center of the universe has shifted, it was two South Asian Nations that contested for the Cricket World Cup Champions Title. Both these teams in the last decade or two have exemplified their pursuit of excellence while shining light on the decay of the very same qualities in the past champions.
Leadership has been a key theme of this World Cup Campaign. Not just from the Captain of the Indian team who shone the brightest with his courage of conviction and dignity, but also from the mentoring elderly statesman in the 38 year old master blaster and the understated South African coach that rallied not just a team of 11 but a squad of 15. And the combined leadership working towards a common goal of achieving sporting excellence focussed on key principles that are worthy of emulation in any walk of life:
- Leaders take accountability with professional and personal integrity seriously. They make no compromises in the drive to achieve the cause.
- A team may be the one that plays on the park on a particular day but every single member needs to feel wanted in a long campaign to contribute just when some other team members comes short on a particular day.
- Resilience comes from the ability to respect decisions and deliver in circumstances that are demanding and not always conducive to ones line of liking or thinking.
- Leaders act and expererience the joy on the field, not in pre or post match conferences. Champions do not complain, they contribute.
- Admitting that you made an error in judgement does not make you a poor leader. Inability to act decisively, does.
- In a long campaign, not all days will be equal. A squad that sticks together will weather the highs and lows and come out triumphant together.
- Skills in cricket alone cannot make champions. It is a team’s personality that shapes the destiny of champions to deserve a place on the victory podium.
- A World Cup Campaign is part of life and not vice versa.
It is ironical that the above points are often discussed as traits of leadership and team work and yet, these are the very principles that are most often flouted by governments, organizations, societies and individuals in their pursuit to achieve their purported goals. Therein lies the fundamental sense of misplaced understanding; the juxtaposition of Purpose versus Goals. The former is an outlook on Universe and Life itself, while the latter is a way to fulfill that shape of life through measured steps.
The shift of power in sport is always a good inspiration for society to endeavor as compelling contributors rather than merely as competitors in other spheres of life. This is what marks champions. They just don’t compete…they contribute. They do not think of excelling in a campaign but focus on their individual personality to become part of a team that can perform consistently. That essentially contributes to being in the position of a champion not just in a campaign, but in life as well. These qualities of champions are very difficult to build; for one needs to reach the deep recess of ones own self individually and collectively to find the magic. Once that has been discovered, it takes a lot of integrity to keep that inner recess shining to inspire and initiate performance. Individual brilliance, no matter how bright, has never built societies. It is the collective wisdom of people that has always brought the goodness of life to bear. Ask Sachin Tendulkar who is rated as the World’s Greatest Batsman succeeding in being part of a world cup winning team at the sixth attempt; he will tell you the pain and travails of the burden of delivering against the expectations of a billion people versus the urge of personal accomplishment.
Congratulations to Team India for the joy it given the people around the world and the hope for Indian in every nook and cranny; that we are destined to deserve better and we can shape that destiny only if we collectively contribute to a cause. JAI HIND!