Blood, sweat and tears – Leadership lessons from a sports-filled weekend

Last Sunday evening was a sporting extravaganza and UK saw the Cricket World Cup Finals, the Wimbledon Finals and the Silverstone Grand Prix all at one go.

Cricket was like religion to me in my growing up years and I watched and loved sport of all kinds, gradually I stopped following it with the passion that I used to. I am not an ardent follower anymore of any of these, but, this Sunday, I watched both the Cricket World Cup Final and the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final. This, because I was on home arrest thanks to a sprained wrist and stressed tendons…

What an evening it turned out to be!!! So many whoa moments, so many heart-in-the-mouth moments and absolute entertainment throughout. So, I thought I would put together some thoughts on what we could learn from both matches … Cricket, a team game and in the context of this Wimbledon match, a single-player game, and both can be deep learning experiences if you choose to see it that way.

Sports and Leadership always have parallels and yield very well to life lessons on a range of topics from learning, coaching and teamwork to dealing with failure.

This Cricket World Cup was full of surprises, from India’s loss in the semis to England’s grand win, there was so much that happened and here are some leadership lessons from the final game and the World Cup overall. The finals with the building anticipation and the teams, runs, the tie, the super over, the tie in the super over, heavens! The drama out there on the field just kept going on!

  1. Life, like cricket or any sport is not decided in one game or one tournament
  2. Success comes with consistent, planned effort
  3. There should be a clear desire to excel
  4. Teams and players need courage to take and own up to decisions
  5. Hard work sometimes pays, sometimes doesn’t
  6. Failure can happen to the most competent fighters too
  7. Honest effort is always rewarded
  8. Failure is just a bend in the road
  9. Sports, much like life is as much about how you lose as it is about how you win
  10. Leverage lessons from the past to channelise your best in the present
  11. Teamwork and team effort have no shortcuts
  12. Luck does play a role in the larger context of things
  13. The beginning cannot always be used to predict the end
  14. When you win, the win belongs to everyone and the extended teams
  15. Gracefully failing is as important as proudly winning

I had never managed to watch a full tennis match but this time, I managed to get all the action of the game, both the finals and the semis. Boy, that finale match was something else … Impeccable players, infinite energy, gripping moves and scores, the audience and their reactions, and their favouritism clear … To call it a treat, would surely be an understatement. Two men who have given themselves to the game and their resilience on the court, I salute their spirit and applaud their careers. This was apparently the longest Wimbledon final and I am still reeling with the effect it had …

The Wimbledon Final had its own share of takeaways for me:

  1. For excellence in sport, practice is the biggest key
  2. Incredible gameplay requires incredible energy on court
  3. You can never let your energy drain or allow yourself to get drained out
  4. Stay focused and stay on point
  5. Even a single player needs an entire team to come together
  6. Effort is crucial every step of the way
  7. There is no room for slacking even for a second
  8. To be able to bounce back, set after set, despite the building pressure
  9. Knowing it’s just a game and you could win or lose
  10. To find the strength to go on even when most of the crowd is not on your side
  11. To drown out the noise and go seeking inwards for calm
  12. To love what you do and love it so much that it becomes you
  13. Blood, sweat, tears and more on both sides of the court
  14. Staying motivated in the face of defeat and after
  15. To play for the love of playing, beyond the wins, the titles and the championships

There’s so much I have left out but if one Sunday of an over-dose of sport could teach me so much, I can’t begin to imagine the life and learnings of sports people and communities around the world. I’ll just say thank you and keep playing and doing the amazing things you do… There’s no playground too small, no opponent too trivial, no sport too simple… Sport in all forms is sport and I congratulate those of you who have found joy in sport. Carpe Diem!

Shreya Krishnan
Vice President - Marketing and Communications at Aon India Insurance Brokers
Shreya is a CSR Specialist and Corporate Grooming Consultant. Her interests lie in Activism, Dance, Theatre, Poetry, Blogging, Modelling, Acting. She considers herself an Earth Warrior and is an Event Anchor and Trainer. She is a Pageant Winner and public speaker.

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