Now I admit it, I am not the biggest sports fan. Monday night football - what football? Baseball? Check once a month - I am all set. But my mind went back to one instant my life where sports - specifically, the game I love most, Cricket - taught me several things.
I was in the 11th grade. Or maybe 12th. I was part of the cricket team of my section vs. other sections. We played in a cricket field between the junior and senior school buildings. The ground was relatively small, so batsmen enjoyed hitting bowlers - especially fast bowlers - for lots of runs. Lots and lots of runs.
I was probably the shortest of the medium pace to fast bowlers. I didn't have the swing or the pace to trouble batsmen on that pitch, and my peers were being hit left, right and center for lots of runs. That is when I decided to take a different strategy.
Rather than run in and bull with full pace, I ran in slowly, bowled at a slow pace and kept a good line and length. The ball would typically stay low, and batsmen found it harder to hit than the other fast bowlers.
My team did pretty well, and my performance as a bowler was pretty steady throughout the season. Our captain trusted me, and the umpire - who also happened to be our class teacher - came and complemented me on my work. Until the crunch time.
In the last match of the season, we were playing against the odd-on favorites. They were close to a victory and needed a few runs off the last over of the day. Our captain trusted - ME! I was delighted at this opportunity and ran into bowl, confident that I could contain and even bowl out the other team. The first ball I bowled was - well, it was wide. That's when I began to lose my cool. The second ball was - again, wide! The next two were rather easy to strike and the opposition team hit a couple of boundaries to win the match.
It was a rather embarrassing moment for me - after a season of doing well, I had failed when it mattered most. But now that I look back at that episode, I realize several things:
1. It is hard to decide whether a particular event is good or bad. On the surface, this was a terrible outcome - my team lost, and I was to blame. But if we hadn't lost, I don't think I would remember this instant some 13 years later, and I certainly wouldn't have learned much. They say failure is a great teacher. I agree
2. Second, I remember the incident as great not because of the outcome, but because of the process. In that season, I gave it my all. In general, I came up with a pretty good performance, but also failed. What matters to me at the end of the day is the process I went through - deciding a different strategy than other bowlers, being consistent and persistent - rather than the outcome. And so I am happy - and follow the philosophy of investing in the process, not the outcome to this day