Lessons from a cricket match : handling defeat.

untitledphoto © 2010 Charaka Ranasinghe | more info (via: Wylio)Yesterday, India won the Cricket world cup semi final match against Pakistan. While the Pakistanis tried hard and did quite well too, they didn’t play as well as the Indians and were defeated. There were moments when the game looked in their hands. When you shift so quickly from a place where you could have won, to a defeat, it may feel crushing. Imagine being in a situation where you did poorly and may infer that you lost the match for your side. Pakistan’s Umar Gul was probably in that situation yesterday.

Defeat at what you are passionate about

How can you handle such a big defeat in your life? Handling defeat is more a question of how you have built up your psyche before the event, over a period of time. When you try hard for something you can potentially fail at, you are putting your heart to the test. You are not trying to play safe in life, you are not being a chicken, you are trying for your dream and risking heart break. You have shown courage and you are pushing yourself to the limits of your potential. When defeat happens in such a case, is it really a failure? It absolutely is not! When you put all your heart into something, you never fail. You may succeed or you may be defeated. But that defeat will not be a failure, that defeat will make you stronger, give you important lessons to vastly improve, on the field and in life. I repeat, when you try hard, you always improve as a person, no matter what the outcome.

Real failure is in not trying. Real failure is in trying once, facing defeat, and then quitting. Real failure is in not going all the way through.


Remorse is only for the one who knows he didn’t try all he could. To avoid that situation, do your best. The soldiers say – ‘The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war’. Make that your motto when you are preparing for a grand event in your life. Make sure you give your best to the preparation. Don’t focus on anything else. Just compete against yourself, do your best. That way, no remorse can touch you. You would have developed and given your best for that particular event, and you will know it.

In the vicinity of the victors.

There is absolutely no need to feel alienated from the victorious. There is no need to feel bad, to feel jealous. There is a bond between you two. Both of you have shown courage and dared to try. The opponent is a brother in a common struggle. If he has been better today, learn from him. His victory today is a testimonial that it can happen! Let his victory motivate you to your own.

It’s not an end, it’s a beginning!

One defeat is not the end of the road. No matter how big a defeat, it does not end it all for you. If you let it, it will make you stronger. They say, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough gets going’ The one who can gather the strength to rise up and continue after a defeat, can do it again and again, relentlessly, until success has no choice but to fall to his feet.

Defeat is an important, positive moment in your journey of growth, it marks the ‘going getting tough’, it is a moment to humbly learn important lessons. Defeat opens your eyes to deeper truths about yourself that you were ignorant of. It can add new vigor to your march towards ultimate success and greatness!

A defeat can provide you a clear and focused goal for the future, something most people don’t have in their lives. Make sure you make this defeat a stepping stone to your success further ahead.

For those who lament the loss of their beloved teams

Do you feel your team’s loss as if it were your own?

I will be a little in your face here. What was your contribution to your team’s effort? Nothing, you just sat there and watched. What could you have done to make them perform better? Nothing, you can just pass judgments from your living room. Let me remind you, you are a spectator. Their victory or defeat is not YOURS! Now sports have a lot of entertainment value. Sports are a good way of testing different, life-like situations in a friendly environment. There is a lot of inspiration to be drawn from a lot of great sports personalities. But there is no point in associating your ego with the team of your choice. Derive entertainment and knowledge, then choose your game in the stadium of life. Use the knowledge and inspiration to better your own game. Here the victory and loss ARE yours. Here, you CAN make a difference!


PS : I am not much of a cricket fan. This was probably the first match I saw in 3 years :), owing also to a cricket-devoid, 3 year stay in New York. Yesterday’s match gave me a lot of respect for Afridi(I liked his parting comments, he was humble and gave good credit to his team. A true leader). I also felt Sehwag and Sachin make a good batting pair, one has a cool head and the other has youthful energy. May the best team win in the finals(India Vs Sri Lanka) and may everyone involved find something good from the event – success or some good lessons.

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