One game ⚽ , many lessons

5 minute read

FOOTBALL & FESTS / & how they helped me build some Life Principles -a 🧵

Some of my strongest memories – at school are from football (dozens of tournaments, travel, blood & dust!), & at college are from the fest circuit (another full life in its own right!). So here I go:

1. APPLAUD OUT LOUD: I was the goalkeeper, last man at the back. I just knew I had to shout & motivate my whole team right across the 90 mins.  

That was just, my job. Basics.

2. PATIENCE: I waited 2 full grades to get on the team. I was on the field 6 am every morning – running, practising reflexes. Dad told me my time would come. It did. And as a grade 8 kid, I got a chance to play on the senior team!  

*only one who’d “trained” to be goalie 😉

3. SORE LOSER: I became a bad loser at a very early age. Even a simple loss at house games in school (which my then girlfriend/now wife would be watching) would shake me up for weeks! But it made so much of ‘my inside’ over time.  

You GOT TO hate losing!

4. EMPATHY: It’s so critical when you play on a team. And you’re bound to get it wrong sometimes when everything else around is aggressive. But can’t let it go. Best teams I was on, we understood each other like rocks / or even if did not, knew we had to honour the code.

5. TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM: You play as one. Always. I took for my boys & they took it for me. Including a suspension for getting into a fight at Zonals, ha! Same at college. Didn’t matter if one fell. Work triply hard. Across nights. Sleep on dirty rugs.  

Team should win!

6. BRING THE BEST ON-BOARD: Learnt this on the Delhi University roads. You always play with the A team. That’s the ground rule for leadership. Never with knives in a gun fight.  

Always got to think how to lift the game tomorrow!

7. INNOVATE IN YOUR EVERYDAY: In a match at Bishop Cotton, Shimla (2006?), I changed my entire strategy last min for close free-kicks
.. Ended up making my best ever save! Skid in wet mud!!  That memory of being lifted atop by team is so fresh :), we won that 2-0! ⚽

8. INTEGRITY/FAIRNESS: In your heart, you know when it’s right & you know when it’s not. Just listen to gut. Play well, play right. Don’t hesitate to act with full force when shit’s wrong! Don’t hesitate to step back, admit & understand better when it ain’t 🙂 Just 🧡🙏

9. COMPETITIVE AT BORDERLINE MADNESS LEVELS: When you compete, you compete hard! You work harder, you think harder, you execute harder. You find the best mentors, you open yourself to the best content/advice. And then you close your eyes. And believe. आरंभ है प्रचण्ड 🙏

10. OBSESSION WITH PERFECTION + EARN YOUR PLACE: I grew up hearing Sachin wasn’t the best Captain because he expected too much, but @imVkohli proved – that’s the only way!

Nothing wrong in demanding perfection. Got to hold yourself to the exact same benchmark though ☝️

When I made Captain, I realised I don’t own the title, & if I don’t perform I will be out. Exact same at University, needed to “earn” to lead. So you needed to put in those hours outside the game. It’s a lesson I never forget. Work 10x harder “to be able to” lead.

11. NEVER THINK SMALL: I won so much in life through those teenage years just because ‘I believed’. Against folks and teams 10x more talented than me / mine. It does have magic 💫
 Side gigs worth lakhs at 19 – Local, Global. Being on stages that deemed unfit. This habit stuck through.

Today, I maintain a separate list of EXTREMELY AUDACIOUS GOALS for @leverageedu – with complete flow charts at that, ha.

And I maintain one for life too. “Striving” is so powerful, so underrated.

12. HUSTLE: I hustled everyday of my years at University, & then again at ISB when I was on the Student Body. Today hustle is often equated to opposite of processes, structures. But it’s not.

It’s simply – MAKING YOUR WAY THROUGH COME WHAT MAY! Nothing to fall back.

करना ही है!

13. DON’T ASSUME, & BE ON THE FRONTLINE: I used to assume my team gets my 🧠 – both as ⚽ Captain & Fest Organiser. This learning is hindsight. They don’t and shouldn’t even need to.  
As a leader, take time out & tell people exactly what they need to do. Over communicate.

14. COURAGE: I was once leading a sports delegation to a camp. Girl on our team was teased by another school. Standing up then in alien ground, getting into a physical fight at 16- I still take so much pride! 
Building a business in 🇮🇳  is similar. Takes everything. Build w/ swag!

15. MICROMANAGE VS TRUST: College fests are such beautiful examples of this: that it’s not a versus, it’s a balance. There is so much that is alive only because of unending trust loops – & yet, it needs those micro lenses!  

It’s never an either or. It’s a “when where why”.

16. BLIND OPTIMISM: I became optimistic to the level that people’d say I am blind. I still am. Doesn’t hurt, I saw. There is so much that can go wrong. And it does. Play that in your own head – but on the outside/at the field – ALWAYS got to be all glasses in the damn bar full!

17. HUMILITY: One year I was the Captain, next year I wasn’t. One year I was a college rockstar, & next year, someone else. Sounds philosophical, but yea – you just can not take yourself seriously. I can’t claim to have completely got there though 😉 / but it helps 🙏

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