Lessons in life Dhoni gave us

The Indian captain did many things right to help us lift that cup. Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty tells you what you can learn from him

While you’re basking in the glory of India’s world cup victory, you may as well take some tips from M S Dhoni on how to stay on top of your game. Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty decodes the mantras that have made our captain among the greatest of all times.

Let criticism inspire you
During the presentation ceremony of the 20-20 World Cup, Dhoni looked at Ravi Shashtri and, with a genuine smile, said, “I remember you called us underdogs and so we have won the cup for you”. Here is a man who does not collapse under the weight of a comment from an important cricketer but works forward with gusto, logic and a renewed determination. When important people undermine or underestimate you, get in touch with your feelings of fear, dread, anger or sadness and convert these into greater resolve. As a kid, Sachin Tendulkar too would not rest till he had defeated his friends in a table tennis match after a loss at his old residence Sahitya Sahawas.

Move on
When India loses, Dhoni often publicly accepts the team’s shortfalls but does not dwell on them for long. During one loss, he said, “This match is over, let’s plan for the next”. Unlike captains of yesteryears, who would brood, ruminate and introspect too much, our reigning captain has mastered the art of leaving things behind. Fear and disappointment are not allowed to percolate his mind. Just focus on newer frontiers with a fresh pair of eyes and a refreshed mood. Do not be the victim of excessive critical appraisal from yourself or others. It may paralyse you.

Us, not I
On the day of victory, the World Cup was in every player’s hands, except Dhoni’s. A couple of years ago, Dhoni asked Anil Kumble to take the cup after a victory in a test series. His genuine affection for his team is visible and the bonding is strong. He has praise for all but neither did he mince words when Gambhir failed to make his 100 due to a bad shot. He is genuine, even blunt. He has publicly made statements such as, “Our middle order should perform” or “Sreeshanth should behave”.

Stay cool
Dhoni is cool during tense moments. No sledging, or rash words. It would be interesting to learn more about his self-talk. It probably involves thoughts such as ‘Calm down’, ‘Focus now’ or “Let me try something new’. The feeling of dread and fear is allowed to pass. He probably observes these emotions come and go on his mind screen. This thought process is visible on his face that remains childlike many a time during a crisis. So, when the chips are down, just observe your feelings as they come. If you find yourself fretting or yelling, you have been hijacked emotionally and will lose friends and battles. If not, creative responses will emerge.

Keep at it
MSD teased Ravi Shashtri by saying, “If we had lost, many questions — why Sreeshanth, why did I bat before Yuvraj — would have been asked”. His getting into the middle of a battle shows he loves challenges and does not bother with incessant advice from exgreats. Like Anil Kumble, who shared at his retirement that he ignored all criticism during his lean period and persisted, our captain also practices ‘dogged perseveration with risk-taking’. The Dhoni mantra is clear — persevere while down, take risks and obey your instincts.

Gratitude
Lastly but importantly, Dhoni feels and expresses his gratitude openly. After the win, he said, “I chose to come before and Gary backed me”. Thanking ‘Gary and Paddy’, and others significant to his performance as well as that of the team, comes naturally to him. Gratitude is a part of his personality.

 

Times of India (Mumbai Mirror) | Apr 5, 2011

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