What can we learn from Sports?

A lot of folks look at a Sports fan with sympathy, similar to the way one would look at some addict well on the way to oblivion. Is that really fair? Though I would never advocate someone plonking themselves in front of TV for a multi-hour marathon TV-watching experience, following Sports as a fan does bring some benefits to our lives.

(A) “Going all out during a game”

“And accepting the results gracefully, once the game is done”. Rafael Nadal is a prime example. I have never seen him sulk or belittle his opponent after a loss. Some of the losses, like his 2014 Australian Open loss, are never easy and yet, he is gracious as ever when giving credit where credit is due. We can always come across people in our daily lives, who never ever admits their failure and instead blame everyone other than themselves. (Have you ever seen a Driver on Indian Roads admit that he/she is NOT a good driver? :-)). I.e. Textbook “Sore Losers”. I love watching Sportsmen/Sportswomen win and bask in the glory. I am equally a fan of studying how Sportsmen/Sportswomen handle adversity. It is easy to be graceful and magnanimous when one has won. Try doing it when the outcome is not what you wished for or hoped for.

This is one area where I feel Virat Kohli can improve. I am a huge fan of Virat Kohli for his skills and his fighting spirit. His records speak for themselves. A highly energetic cricketer, if ever there was one. But he rarely accepts his getting out gracefully. Mostly it involves discussions and arguments with umpires, some choice words (mostly to himself) Etc. In a recent occasion, he was clearly out caught and yet he sulked all the way back to the pavilion. Basically, he seems to be having the mentality that if he gets out, it has to be an error by someone else, for he is not supposed to get out, ever! 🙂

(B) Tactics

One of the great pleasures a Sports fan has is in doing “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” or critiquing after the end result is well known. I have also developed some advanced skills in this arena.

“If only Federer had played more aggressively …”

“If only Djokovic had hit a down-the-line shot instead of going cross-court …”

“If only McCullum had enforced follow-on …”


As one can note, making decisions when the end result is far away from being known, is an altogether different ballgame.

Which is why, it is highly enjoyable to test your wits while a sports event is unfolding. For E.g. Rather than passively watching Tennis on TV, try “playing” along with your favorite player. Each time the ball comes over, try deciding in your mind what shot you would make.

The tactical decisions Players and Team Captains make offer a lot of lessons for the Corporate World as well.

(C) Inspiration for Fitness

Whenever one watches supremely fit athletes indulge in their sport, one cannot help but be inspired to get off the couch and indulge in some activity. For E.g. After watching a Tennis match involving Novak Djokovic, rarely have I reached out for a Donut right after the match :-). Similarly, how can one NOT be inspired by Rafael Nadal’s “guns”?

(D) Practice and Preparation

A few years back, Roger Federer was asked by Jim Courier (TV Analyst) on his “Off-Season Preparations”. Federer jokingly replied that he is supremely talented and all he does is lie on the couch and let his talent do the hard work. In reality, even a supremely gifted player like Federer spends countless hours on the practice courts and in the gym.

Peyton Manning is another example of what Practice allows a person to do during the game.

As Malcolm Gladwell fantastically articulates in his hugely successful book “Outliers”, it takes countless hours of practice for a person to be an Expert in anything. Rarely does Talent do the work on its own.

(E) Handling Setbacks

Saurav Ganguly made his Cricket debut (ODIs) at a very young age. But due to attitude problems and other similar issues, he soon lost his place in the Indian Cricket Team and had to spent several years in the wilderness. But when he got his next chance, boy, was he ready. A Century on Test Debut, followed by a stellar career as a Batsman and as a Captain was what happened thereafter.

Another example is Stanislas Wawrinka, who after 12 straight losses (never once winning a set!), turned things around and beat Nadal in 2014 Australian Open Finals.

After the huge setback Peyton Manning had in SuperBowl XLVIII, let us see how he handles it in 2014-15 Season.


Why “Early Bird Work Hours” make sense in India …

From the moment we wake up, we get swamped with Information, Crises/Issues/Problems, Meeting Requests, Phone Calls Etc. It is increasingly important that every individual figure out how best to maximize the output that can be derived from the fixed amount of time we all have every day.

On a typical working day, I am at my desk around 4-5 hours before the majority of my colleagues start coming in. And I do leave office well before the majority of my colleagues leave for the day.

My reasons for my typical Work Timings are:

(A) My mind is fresh

After a good night’s sleep, my mind is raring to go and may a times I have noticed that some of my most vexing problems were solved during that early morning window. A particular problem over which I might have spent hours dwelling on (the previous day), is solved within the first hour of waking up. In the Technology world, each problem requires deep thought, involving a lot of variables and data and it is paramount that your mind can process all the necessary data and make sense out of it, quickly. A fresh and well-rested mind helps a lot with it.

(B) The scary Indian traffic? No worries …

For some reason, 90%+ of working adults in India still love the good ol’ 9AM-6PM work commute. Considering the super-long line of traffic, traffic jams, the harassed and angry commuters, the smoke and dust, the dangerous and pot-hole-filled roads Etc., I keep thinking why folks are putting themselves through such torture. My work timings allow me to beat the peak-time traffic and if the roads were in not so bad a condition, my overall commute time would have been even better.

(C) Quiet window of 3-4 hours:

No face-to-face meetings.

No chit-chat, laughter and guffaws among colleagues.

No ringing phones (except for mine :-)).

No opening and closing of doors. 

Well, you get the drift. It is mostly peace and quiet. The right environment to tackle tough Engineering problems. Every Individual has work which only he/she can do and must do. Guess which is the best time for such work? 🙂

(D) Overlap with Remote Locations and also with the Local Workforce

In this day and age, rare is a person whose work only depends on interactions with counterparts in the same timezone. A typical worker has to interact with various time zones (Pacific Standard Time, Eastern Standard Time, India Standard Time, Japan Standard Time Etc.) and having a good time overlap with counterparts help a lot.

You still have a good 4-5 hours of overlap with the local workforce. One can schedule all local meetings and one-on-ones during that window.

(E) Relaxed 2nd-Half with Family

Assuming it is a typical day, where you do not have crises which require immediate attention, you are back at home and ready to play with kids, have leisurely walks with family, dinner with Family Etc. All leading to a slow and steady winding down towards the end of the day.


Well, the above is not for everyone, obviously. If your body clock does not allow you to wake up before 11AM (for example), you cannot follow such a regime. But for folks who wake up early naturally, maybe you should try such a regime, if you do not already.