Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Rohit Sharma and the art of living in day-tight compartments

Earlier in the month of June, I was struggling to meet my marathon running schedule. For starters, the plan that I follow requires me to run four times a week with a long run usually on weekends and modest distance runs during the weekdays. This plan works on the premise to increase the mileage gradually over 14 weeks and then tapering down practice before the actual marathon. The issue I was facing after reaching the week 6 was that it was becoming hard for me to pull myself up, encourage myself and go for run. It wasn't really the motivation issue as I was getting up early without fail. It's not quite uncommon for runners to be in this situation for various reasons. I will come to root cause of my situation in a bit and in the meantime shifting your attention to the ongoing Cricket World Cup.

If you are following the ongoing Cricket World cup, like me you might also be astonished at the consistency of Rohit Sharma, the opener from Indian cricket team. Rohit managed to score 5 centuries in 7 matches (highest in a single world cup) and most importantly won man of the match award 4 times.

I quite loved this video from ESPN Cricinfo, hence sharing here (with full credit to ESPN Cricinfo and the creator).

Rohit was an underdog in 2011 World cup but he rose to being ahead of everyone, and on the verge of creating history in 2019 World cup.

So what really changed for Rohit. I tried to decipher the answer to this question by observing what he said in his recent interviews.

Here is what Rohit said prior to the world cup

Look, there's a balance one has to draw between the kind of desperation that exists within you and the calmness you seek, if you've got to keep playing this game at the highest level. Both are important but who you are as a person, that basic desire inside you to remain who you are - that doesn't change. Shouldn't, rather. A certain bit of desperation helps build that hunger; the appetite. On the other hand, composure always keeps you grounded.
Here's what he said after scoring his 4th century (i think against Bangladesh):
I scored only 1 century and that is today. I don't think about yesterday and take the game starting today! I only think about today.
Here's what he said after scoring his 5th century:
I come out thinking I have not played any ODIs or scored any hundreds. That is the challenge as a sportsperson. I know if I play well all these things (records) will come along the way. My job is to keep my head straight and get my team to the finishing line.
These lines from his recent interviews highlights the zen like mindset that Rohit Sharma is in. Let me paraphrase a bit of what I learned from this mindset:

1. Rohit has mastered the art of detaching himself not only from results but also from what has happened in the past (even what happened yesterday on the field).

2. Whether he scored a century or a much lesser score, he is not letting result of past matches impact him.
3. He is taking life at field one day at a time.
4. He is fully present in the moment and hence seeing the ball clearly and planning his strokes.

Seeing this play-out I got reminded of two learnings I have had early in my life.

The first being- Dale Carnegie popularized this concept of living in day-tight compartments. It means that we only think about and focus on the current day. In a compartment, the walls on the left and the right side are closed, meaning we cannot see or go through them.
Second is a phrase that i recall from Geet Sethi's  book 'Success vs Joy' where he says, concentration is simply remaining in the present. Very simply put, hence a very effective definition of focus.

Rohit Sharma's mindset right from the start of this world cup is that of not going beyond himself, and immersing in the current moment. That helped him build a sort of equanimity, that elusive trait of maintaining calm and composure irrespective of whether he succeeds or fails. He found a way to live in day-tight compartment, not worrying about what will happen tomorrow and care much less about what happened yesterday. He is simply in the moment and enjoying being there, in that zone.

Back to my challenges of sticking to marathon schedule. I digged deep and found out that it was because I was getting ahead of myself even before I had stepped on the running track. I had weekly target of mileage to be met and what was happening was that I was letting this target dominate my mind and losing the joy a given moment brings in. If you know that you are chasing 50 Km of run in a week and you allow that thought to dominate your mind, then it becomes exceedingly hard to enjoy running.

Learning from Rohit Sharma's mindset, I tried to inculcate the habit of not being desperate to complete weekly target, stay in the moment, and once the daily run is done just forget about it. And start the next day from 0 km mark.
How did I do this ? By simply raising my awareness and choosing to not come in my own way.

Was it easy to follow this ? Certainly not, but it helped me meet my running target for the last 2 weeks while enjoying almost every run.

Do you think such mindset can be applied in organization's context ? Is it really possible live in a day-tight compartment while doing your work ?

Do share your thoughts.

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