Following on from my last post at the end of January, pre-season is used as a time to reflect (on what worked and where we can improve), and for the obvious, to prepare. Having spent a week in Dubai at a coaches conference for the ICC, I too had some time to prepare my next blog post, all in preparation for the upcoming season. With just under three weeks to go until our ongoing quest for World Cup Qualification resumes, firstly with a Camp in Pretoria – South Africa, and then a series in Namibia, it is easy to get ‘lost’ or stuck in ‘going through the motions’ if one doesn’t have a few guidelines to work with constantly.
I am currently reading a book by Robin Sharma, The Greatness Guide, and found 10 points I believe to be pretty handy for cricketers, as well as in life. The book has over 100 points, and maybe I will share with you some of them as time goes by, but for the time being, I believe these ten will stand you in good stead. It will also serve as a solid foundation to grow from.
The connections between sport and life, and vice versa, are all around us, and we should always try and connect the two. Some of the stuff you will have undoubtedly heard before, but maybe one or two points will stand out for you, and make a little more sense. As I have always been taught, even if its just one point, one line, or even just one word that inspires you to be a better you, then I am happy.
Power of simple
Robin uses kids as examples, about how they live in the moment, and teach him to open his heart. He quotes the co-founder of Google who says, “Success will come from simplicity” which for me made so much sense.
Cricket is already a very complicated game, with a lot of technical, tactical, mental obstacles to overcome. Over the last 10 years, we have seen the introduction of Sport Science, video analysis, etc etc. It is very easy to get caught up in all these new avenues of the game, and in the process of finding perfection; one only tends to lose one self. Yes the game of cricket is forever evolving, but the fundamental basics of the game will always remain the same.
Wear shiny shoes
When I first read the title of this chapter, I was a bit skeptical of what I was going to read. I mean, what do shiny shoes have to do about being a leader? But it was way more than that to be honest. Robin explains that, the way you do and look after the small things (like wearing shiny shoes to a job interview), will say a lot about the way you do the big things. He uses a garden and home as an example.
“If your garden is well organized, I bet you your life is pretty well organized.”
One point that really hit home for me was when he said that you could tell a lot about the business, by the cleanliness of their bathrooms.
In cricket, we place a lot of emphasis on the bigger picture, and tend to forget about the small things. A stupid, yet simple, example would be the following: so many cricketers I have coached all want to play the reverse sweep, the paddle, the big hit for six that wins the game. In essence, I don’t have a problem with that; practice that until the cows come home. What I notice is that, before the players are even in a position to hit the winning runs, they struggle to hit the ball down the ground for a simple single. A lot of young players struggle to occupy the crease, knock the ball around for one’s and two’s, and in the process, build a partnership. Like one of my coaches always told me “a single down the ground is just as sexy a shot, as a sweep or flick for one”.
Do it now
This title pretty much speaks for itself. So many times, we as people, find excuses and reasons to postpone whatever it is we need to do until the next day, next week, or next year. The old cliché is so true: There is no better time than NOW.
In Olympic training circles, there is a saying that says, “You should be a twenty year overnight success”.
This hit home to me. You winning the medal, doesn’t start by training and upping your game just before the World Cup, it starts today. Live and train like a champion today, in order to revel in the spoils tomorrow.
There are no mistakes
In sport, no one walks onto the field wanting to fail. Therefore, all our shortcomings, mistakes, or failures are actually a rich source of learning. Instead of being stuck in the past on our mistakes, we should focus on the future in order to constantly improve and better ourselves. Robin says “Everything that has happened to you in your life – the good and the difficult – was necessary to help you become the person you are now”.
So in fact, there are no such things as mistakes. There are only growth lessons. In sport we talk a lot about older players having a lot of experience. The reason why they have experience is because they have been around for a long time. For a younger player to gain the necessary experience at a high level, one should use these “growth lessons” on a daily basis, act on it immediately, and build towards the future.
Take charge fast
Leadership, success, and greatness occur in moments of challenge, not during ease. As players, not only should we be wanting to do well in the game that has no consequence, but we should want to be that player that wants to bat when the team needs 15 runs per over to win. We must want to be the player who wants to bat when Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are charging in at 150km/h on a quick wicket. We must want to be the player that has to bat out the whole day in India on a raging turning wicket, with men all around the bat. Don’t shy away from challenge and opportunity, “Take charge fast” for it is in these moments that we learn most about what we are made of.
Ideas are worthless
I am a big believer in this title. It could be seen as a controversial one, but once I explain, it will start to make sense. In cricket, teams and players can very easily come up with the most lavish of plans and ideas on what they believe are needed to succeed. Great. But ideas are worthless without execution. In other words, ideas are just ideas, unless they are acted on properly. The key to bringing your idea to fruition is the actual execution thereof.
Getting a batter out is way more than just bowling that perfect delivery that clips the top of off stump. It’s the execution of getting the right amount of balls, in the right places for an extended period of time. So again, we find ourselves back at the point where, we should focus on getting the basics right first, before we start thinking about anything else. Great players, and teams, do the basics extremely well, and therefor can execute their plans and ideas a lot easier.
The responsibility meter
Life is all about balance. So many times I have seen players live lives of rock stars, but yet have not achieved much within their own career, or even worse, are only starting out in their career. I once used this analogy with my young Academy players: Everyone wants to be Springbok, live like a Springbok, and party like a Springbok. But yet, not many are willing to work as hard as a Springbok.
Everyone wants to win the final, qualify for the World Cup, win the World Cup, be number one, but yet is not willing to put in the work that requires one to be successful.
To take an excerpt from Robin’s book: “Imagine a dashboard with a meter on it. At one end is the word FREEDOM. At the other, the word RESPONSIBILITY. To me, being a leader and living a remarkable life means striking the delicate balance between the two. In other words, the needle on your responsibility meter should stay in the middle. Ideally.
Ask yourself this question: Where does your life, at this very minute, register on the Responsibility Meter? Too much time enjoying your freedom and not enough time doing what’s required to build a world class career and world class days? Or the other way around? Being at either extreme means being out of balance.”
As Robin says, “Think about what being in the middle of the meter would look like. Because better awareness drives better choices. And better choices create better results.”
A lust for growth
We all know that we should aspire to grow and improve as players, and human beings on a daily basis. Once we open ourselves up for growth and constant change, we accelerate our path to success. But we tend to forget some of our most important ‘teachers’.
What comes to mind when you when you think about your best Coach, teacher, or boss? Good thoughts, right?
We appreciate all the good feelings that person evoked in us, and empowered us to improve. We saw growth and improvement on a massive scale, and we need to be thankful to that person for shaping us to be who we are today. So why should we feel differently to the most challenging, frustrating, sad, tough days of our lives. Are these not the events that have most sparked change and growth in us? These too were our teachers, and we should acknowledge these moments, for they too have forged us into whom we are today.
In other words, embrace everything that happens to us. Every moment in life, be it good or bad, is a vehicle to personal growth and personal expansion. Identify these life lessons, and learn from them. So many times we don’t acknowledge them, and then these lessons seem to ‘recycle’ themselves onto us until the lesson is learnt.
Credit doesn’t matter
Harry Truman once observed, “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.”
It is so human of us to crave applause, recognition in everything that we do. We all want to be appreciated, and revered by our peers. But leadership in sport, and in life, is about standing for a cause. In other words, it’s a about the team. The teams’ ambitions come before yours. Leave your ego at the door when you go to practice today, or take part in a match, and just focus on what you can do for the team that will help them be successful.
It is as simple as that.
Be a beautiful thinker
“You are what you think”
“Think big, and your behavior will follow”
“Think good things, and good things will happen to you”
We have all heard these sayings in so many ways, but yet we still self-sabotage ourselves into negative things happening to us. Why can’t we be happy all the time? Instead we wait for something ‘bad’ to happen to us, because this is too good to be true.
You see, the way we think ultimately shapes the way we live, and therefore we should think beautifully every day. Our thoughts dictate our feelings, and ultimately our actions. We are all in control of our thoughts, so why not make them beautiful.
In sport it is exactly the same. We should always focus on the positive things and keep moving forward. Like Robin says, “What you focus on truly will expand. And what you dwell upon will most definitely determine your destiny”.
I hope that some of these points made sense, and hopefully inspire you to become a better you, no matter how big or small.
Next stop is Pretoria, where we gather as a team to prepare for our series against Namibia, and during that time, I will once again post a few blogs on what is happening on and off the field, before we get down to business in Windhoek.