in Career Development, Leadership, Leading the Self

A Few Parallels Between Sports, Life and Leadership

Last few months, I have been playing Table Tennis regularly. From a complete novice to a reasonably comfortable player has been a wonderful road so far. With each game, I am getting more confident because I learn some new tricks, understand the nuances and find better ways to handle different situations.

For example, when I was a novice, I would not attempt to even respond when the opponent smashed the ball. The ball comes at a great speed and how can you possibly respond to that? I recently conquered that fear, and just attempted to get the blade in line of the ball to respond. And it worked to amaze everyone around. The lesson? In our game/profession/life there will be difficult situations. You can either put your guns down and be a victim, or you can at least try to handle them. Things only work out when we do something about it.

Another example. In Tennis, we have no control over the opponent. What they will come back with, which direction they will hit the ball, how will they spin the ball is all unknown. But when the opponent does something drastic, we quickly align ourselves, stretch a bit, run a bit and get to the ball. The lesson? When we have no control over the external situations (economy, markets, unforeseen circumstances etc), readiness to adapt is the single most valued skill that we can develop as human beings.

Okay, the last one. I almost never scored points when I played safe shots. Because in the game, when I play a safe (or modest) shot, the opponent invariably hits it hard and scores a point. The whole idea of the game is that you have to play that one short more than your opponent. That gave me a very important lesson – we have to take calculated risks often to be able to win. Playing safe is still okay if you are playing to pass your time. But to win, you have to approach the game differently and be persistent.

We can draw a lot of parallels between sports, life and leadership – because ultimately, all of these are a way to express ourselves better. We have to bring ourselves to the game and how we play it matters more than how we finish.

That’s what every sport teaches us! Have a GREAT start into the week.

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  1. Absolute beautiful way to co-ordinate sports with life and profession.
    I however believe that “readiness to adapt against uncontrolled external factors” is a good quality, but not always – atleast should never frame an habbit of doing so.
    Instead we can encapsulate ourselves with such abilities or levels that these uncontrolled factors and situations have no or less impact on us.

    Wish to have one game of TT sometimes togather Sir. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing

    Jay Chhaya

  2. Wonderful mapping of Sports,Life & Leadership. When Table Tennis is on board, I need to play my shot as well 🙂

    I remember similar piece of advice from my TT coach when he used to say that playing defensive can help you get points but getting a point with your attack/offense will make you more happy and increase your confidence level. I totally agree with Tanmay Sir that in anything we do, we need to take calculated risks and that is important to go up the ladder of success.


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