Sunday, 28 February 2016

One ball at a time


I recently read Andrew Flintoff's biography - Second Innings: My Sporting Life - and was quite taken with his descriptions of the ups and downs in his playing performance over the years. Yes, there was alcohol, intrinsically linked to it all, but there was also his own psychological state, choppy and uneven. Reading about his mind made me contrast his mental make-up with those of players in the Australian team, who seem more naturally aggressive in the most nonchalant way, almost childlike in the way they approach life. 

I don't know much about sports psychology, but It seems to me that you're at your best when you're simply playing and not thinking too much about playing. Flintoff was at his best when he was on a mood high, happy with his place in the world, playing without care, visualising himself as a giant, fearless, untouchable and taking it one ball at a time. I think it's an attitude thing. It might be better for your performance to stop thinking about your performance, and just live in the moment, one ball at a time. 

Perhaps that's why the Australians are so good at cricket. That and trust. you've got to have good camaraderie with your team mates, coach and management to put you in a good mood and clear your mind. But other that that, there's an element of not caring about the outcome of a match that I think helps. Because really, you have no control over much, less so the outcome of a sports match, and the sooner you accept that, the better off you will be. Because then no matter how good or bad the match outcome, you see no reason to blame yourself, to doubt yourself. You did your best, everything else was out of your control, better luck next time.

And I suppose the ability to see things in the larger perspective helps - it's just a match, there are people on this planet with real problems and bigger issues, you're just swinging a bat or throwing a ball. Just do the best you can do at that moment and let everything else sort itself out. If you really suck, they'll replace you with someone else. That's their problem, not yours.

I wonder if extending this attitude to business helps. Maybe the most successful business professionals are those who don't act one way or another but simply live out their natural mental states at work. Focus on the job at hand, let everything else sort itself. Whether the organisation lives or dies is not your immediate concern. Leave that to someone else. Do a good job. Be the best you can be. How your work fits into the larger scheme of things is a useful way to think if it's part of your job, if it will help you get better at what you do,  but if it's only going to fill you with self doubt and stress, then what's the point? I guess that works if you're a specialist and not the owner of a company, because then you're going to need a slightly different attitude to your work. Or maybe not. Perhaps even owners just need to tackle one challenge at a time.


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1 comment:

Melvin Dsouza said...

Sweet thought... One day at a time sweet Jesus! But hey, you're anti something right?? Hehehe

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