Business Today

Going beyond talent

     Print Edition: July 10, 2011

The Winning Way
By Anita Bhogle and Harsha Bhogle
Publisher: Westland
Pages: 226
Price: Rs 200

To lose is not a crime, to offer less than 100 per cent is." These words from Harsha and Anita Bhogle's book The Winning Way sum up exactly how I have lived my entire life and especially my sports career. I am not much of a reader although I keep abreast of current affairs, but I virtually devoured the entire book in one go - mostly because every chapter brought back fond memories from my playing days.

The book talks about goal setting: the importance of setting performance goals rather than result goals. This is exactly what a brilliant mental trainer from the United States told us - the Indian hockey team - at a training camp before the 2004 Athens Olympics. He said: "Give your best to whatever is within your control - your training, your rest, your diet, improving your dribbling, the reverse hit, etc. Whatever is out of your control - a hostile crowd, the weather, sometimes the final result itself - don't let those things bother you too much."

It was fascinating for me to read about Steve Waugh's "No Regrets" tour of 1999. The Australian World Cup squad of 1999 had decided that their campaign that year would be an effort towards "giving it their all" and having absolutely no regrets at the end of the day. That's a great way to live, to learn and to play sport. Such an attitude plays a big role in winning. This is something I want to implement in my current role as CEO of Olympic Gold Quest, or OGQ, which looks after the training of some of India's top athletes preparing for the Olympics. Our mission is to help India win Olympic gold medals. The goal seems "out of reach" as India has won just one individual gold medal so far in over 100 years of the Olympics. But, as the book says, it is definitely not "out of sight".

The book has a message for OGQ as well. If we are going to help India win gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, we will have to give 100 per cent at every team meeting, in every training session and during every match, much like Waugh's all conquering team did in 1999. Everyone has a role to play and everyone must play it to the best of his or her ability. If star boxer M.C. Mary Kom has to fight for just eight minutes (four rounds of two minutes each) in a bout, there are at least eight experts in the background who play a very important role in helping her stay strong enough, fast enough and armed with the right inputs to beat the best in the world. Every member of the team is important.

I think the book captures the essence of values in sport, values that make champion players and champion teams. The lessons that make champion players are very similar to those that turn executives into champions in the corporate world. I think what The Winning Way has taught me best is that the work ethic is non-negotiable. That is the first thing I am going to convey to all my athletes.

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