My friend Dada wrote to me an e mail where he said that he has become a regular reader of my blogs but he is not my fan! I wrote back to him saying Dada, I would rather have critics than have fans. In real life this is what is necessary to keep us grounded. This is essential because ones longevity in what one is doing depends fully on how grounded you are. I am not a big writer but I write blogs as I love to write; I realized this love a few years back. For me it has almost become a body function. My friends keep on coaxing me that I should release a book of my blogs but I don’t think I have reached that stage. I am happy that my friends like Dada and some unknown people read my blogs, and some like Dada have become regular readers. I am neither writing for fame nor do I consider myself an intellectual. I write about what comes to mind from whichever situation I may be in. Now I have set my goal to be a more frequent writer of better and better blogs (as per my thinking) so that I end up having more critics!
Staying grounded is not as easy as it looks. There are numerous examples of sports persons, movie stars, singers who have gone through the grunt; some have managed beautifully but some have miserably failed. There have been examples of child prodigies who could or could not reach the expectations as they became adults. Classic example is of Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli. Both were childhood prodigies, very close friends, Vinod supposedly slightly better than Sachin and this was seen when they entered the Indian team. Sachin remained totally grounded, but Vinod could not manage to remain grounded. After initial burst of centuries and double centuries Vinod’s career tapered off and he had to retire in year 2000! Sachin selected his date of retirement and retired in style on his home ground Wankhede in 2013. Sachin now is a billionaire and Vinod, I heard that he struggled to pay monthly fees for his flat! I am not saying that success can be measured in terms of money you make! Sadly I can’t imagine what must be going through Vinod’s mind!
What decides the so called remaining grounded? Is it family background? Is it friends that you have during initial phase! Or is it what company you have during your initial stardom phase? Sachin came from a middle class background, in Vinod’s case he came from even below lower middle class background. Both of them naturally did not have flashy lifestyle. In both the cases, they had the same Guru in their growth phase, whose critique during this phase must have been their Gospel! Did they have more critics or more fans? What critics do in your life is to pinpoint your failures and mistakes. Some will do it out of jealousy and some out of keenness to help you. Being grounded is to understand the difference between a well-wisher and those who are creating adulation. Harsh critic is better than a total fan. It’s how you handle criticism decides success and failure. Who does not have failure? Who does not make a mistakes? I feel that successful person is one who keeps on making new mistakes every time! You stop making mistakes when you stop doing things! You make a mistake and learn; with every mistake you can climb one step up the ladder to success. Life as we all know is learning school and those who stop the learning process are embracing the recipe of failure!
Sachin Tendulkar was getting out caught behind in slips or to wicket keeper, regularly at one phase in his career. He discussed his technique with many experts, practiced and practiced hard. By this time he was already playing cricket at highest level for about 12 years. He decided to test the result of his hard work against the then best team, Australia. He settled down in one inning, and went on to score 240 odd runs in that inning, that too in Australia. What was so special about it! He did not play a single shot on the off side which was getting him out. Mind you he is a batsman with natural off side game. But it was simply discipline that allowed him to achieve this. Once this gave him the confidence, from next match he started playing all his strokes! Learning from mistakes, discipline, and steely determination!
That takes us back to original discussion, Critic or Fan! I have discussed example of people starting almost at the same point of origin, going steady for initial phase. Curves started to change their slope and one finally fell apart. Focus, ability to learn from mistakes, being in company of right people decides the trajectory. There have been other factors like ability to overcome pain due to injury which Sachin had around 2007; he overcame this barrier with tremendous hard work, exercise and pain. Never during this phase, probably career threatening phase, did he flinch from his focus and finally of achieving whatever goals he must have reset himself. Mind you his initial goal, when he was a kid, was to play for India which he reached a bit too early in his life but after that he reset his goals to achieve more! Is it at this point Kambli failed to understand that he needs to raise the bar? He needed to reset his goals.
Don’t we all make such errors? Don’t we all sit on our laurels a bit too early? Honestly when I started writing this blog I was not sure which direction I was going. I was not sure what conclusion I would draw. But I am finally concluding that remaining grounded, hoping to have more critics than fans and not sitting on laurels are three most important things not necessarily in the same order. What will be your order of importance?