What if a mentor gave you something to take home besides the usual school book facts? What if he believed in inspiring you to learn, making himself progressively unnecessary? And what if he never told, explained, or instructed, but simply pushed you stealthily in his own little way – He may not know, but silently, the Mentor in Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is doing all this and more, steering many a young minds, inspiring them to evolve.
Sachin’s mentoring is all about enabling
They don’t call him God for nothing – for ironically, you are both intimidated by his presence and also waiting to hear the gospel. I, quite obviously, was a bundle of nerves, debuting to play for Team India and sitting before the Man, answering his questions. “Did Vettori bowl his arm ball to you? The one which he bowls with the upright seam and swings in to the right hander?” enquired Sachin on my first team meeting during the India-New Zealand series in 2003.
I had already played a couple of warm-up games against the Kiwis, but what bewildered me the most was to see the legend talk about Vettori’s tricky delivery, apparently dangerous enough even for him. Little did I realize then, that he was doing this just to calm my nerves, for I needed assurance that I belonged to that arena. Then he quietly told me to watch out for that arm ball, because Vettori may have avoided it on purpose in the warm-up games.
achin continues to learn, even after knowing it all, and that is what counts…
I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to have a word with him and promptly made a phone call to his room the following evening. Don’t they say – A single conversation with a wise man, is better than ten years of study. Sachin was kind enough to not only allow me to come in but also to speak to me for nearly an hour. He’s an institution and you get to learn something every minute you spend with him. He told me about how he had played the knock against Pakistan in 2003 World Cup, much before he finally did, in his mind, over and over again. In fact, he didn’t even sleep well for 15 nights leading to that match. This was my first initiation into the power of visualization, a key tool in the run up to a big match, and also my first real understanding of a pressure cooker situation in an International Match, and what it could do to you. Obviously, it wasn’t only about being supremely talented and hitting the ball well. If the God himself was preparing so meticulously, we, the lesser mortals needed to go a long way.
What Sachin is, is more important than what he teaches
What intrigues me most about Sachin is that he continues to inspire and teach even without having a conversation with you, provided you’re devotedly observing. It’s hard to not be stimulated by his absolute and complete respect to time, discipline and work ethics. For instance, no matter how early you board the team bus, you would always find him sitting on the first seat listening to his favourite music, while many others would make a last minute dash to the bus with the muffin from the breakfast in their hands. And then it’s almost guaranteed that he would beat you to be the first on the ground. Despite being always on time, in fact before time, you would hardly see him hurrying. There’s a sense of calm around him and that’s what reflects in his game too. He’s always got more time than anyone else which in layman term means that his body is always in the right position to play the shot before the ball arrives. Don’t they say that your actions become your habit and your habits become your character?
Sachin’s art of teaching is the way to his self discovery
How can I not mention the numerous net sessions in which he taught me the importance of not letting the guard down? He would make a point to ask me if his back-lift was coming down straight, and if the feet were moving okay. Now, I was only a novice and could offer very little feedback, but he was still willing to take on board whatever I had to offer. This is indeed the secret of his never ending reign at the top. We have seen so many players, really good players too; paying dearly for succumbing to the vices that come with recognition. And hence it is mandatory to be aware of the demons lurking in the background. And you could be aware only if you’re modest enough to accept your mistakes.
It is not the titles that honour Sachin, but he who honours the titles.
He’s been a pillar of support even now. I still look up to him for advice and guidance which he’s always been kind enough to provide. I can’t guarantee a reply to my text from my younger teammates from Delhi, who’re currently representing India but I can bet my last dollar that Sachin will most definitely reply. Not that the younger lot is arrogant, but they still have a long way to go and learn that it’s not only wickets and runs which make a player great. It’s equally, if not more, important to be a good human being which Sachin indeed is. Humility is the last but perhaps the most important lesson he teaches every youngster.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 at 4:52 pm
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