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Losing well

Disclaimer: “…Of course it’s a game and it is easy to be free& unconstrained in a game than in real life…”

Sports and especially team sports give an intimate perspective of all the great things that are professed as desirable traits of high performing teams – Self organizing, cheering up each other, tolerating mistakes but urging to do better, focused on the goal, placing team above individual at all times and most importantly a “never give up” attitude. Today I was part of one such game, which our team lost but we had tons of fun.

Being one of the strong teams of the tournament (this is a game of Cricket and we are having a summer tournament) we went into this match with a “do or die” situation. Winning would mean a place in the final and losing (like we did) would take us out of the tournament.

Despite of the poor start (we lost early wickets), we saw a couple of great performances by our batsmen (who we cheered our lungs out from outside the boundary line) and we got to a respectable total to defend. Not as much as we thought we would make, but a good one and our confidence that we have a genuine chance of winning went up.

The opposition team played very well and with a lot of discipline. Their bowling was spot on, with minimal extras and they fielded like champions. And they started their second innings too in a steady manner, trying to find their own confidence and slowing inching towards the same with every run they scored.

And then we made some costly errors, dropped at least 3 catches, gave away extras and although they were sparks in between, we could not really turn it around in time.

What is great to note (as I depicted in a rough way in the graph) is how we stuck together as a team throughout. Mistakes were forgiven instantly with a heavy dose of encouragement (“its ok, tough luck, you will do better next time”), bowlers were cheered for every good ball and cheered even more for every bad ball, suggestions were offered to the captain proactively, decisions accepted without the slightest hesitation and when the defeat was almost certain (number of runs needed were 3 with 12 balls to go) the bowler did not accept defeat mentally and said “we will play as if we would win and not lose, let’s set the field properly” – what a dream behavior to have in a high performing team (“yeah the outcome was not great!”, the cynical you may ask! But we did make losing also so joyful).

As we let the opposing team crack up the ground with their victory shouts (it is perfectly normal behavior when you play cricket!) we congratulated them with arms wide open and wished them good luck for the finals.

Of course it’s a game and no one was getting fired for losing, but if it can bring together a set of individuals and bring out such a great display of attributes for a couple of hours, then it’s well worth every minute of it! And if this can be done on the field, is it not worth trying it off the field as well!

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12 Comments on “Losing well

  1. Investment of efforts into a common goal, that’s what makes any team sport worthwhile.

    You’ve captured nuances of sports so well….

  2. Nice Phani. What kept the team together was the goal – and everyone was aligned to that goal. And another thing I have personally learnt through sports is situational leadership. Both these points, were greatly at show in the movie Lagaan – The larger purpose – to avoid 3 times tax & how everybody rallies together & most importance of the participatory leadership style

  3. “And if this can be done on the field, is it not worth trying it off the field as well”, why not very much true and thats the way it has to be. The feeling of win and lose is momentary on field, but the memories that you have on the field is what you carry and Cherish.. its same outside the field too.

  4. Excellent Blog Phani..very creative way to pass on the message.

  5. Sometimes, very common yet unnoticed involuntary actions, give us the real essense of life. Of how exactly life should be lived.
    Just like the carefree attitude, towards things that we are not paid for, gives better results coz we tend to be ourselves without any pressure of only excelling and no risk.

    I really liked the graph part apart from the cohesive writing. 🙂

  6. Excellent Phani. Liked the never give up attitude inspite of 3 runs in 12 balls.

  7. Graphical representation is very good , Arun Sagar K

  8. Hi Phani, you have Very well described the dynamics of a cricket match and its swings! Whatever is the end result, your team has still won, as your take-away’s will be a very high team spirit, a never-say-die attitude and then conceding that a better team has won!

    Milind Vad

  9. Good one Phani!! Liked the way you depicted the match progress in the graph..

  10. Great one again
    Of course it is replicable of the field.
    As long as you play as a team anything can be achieved.

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