10 business lessons for start up founders from Cricket

Recently in our company blog, we published an article titled Top 10 Leadership & Life Lessons from Tokyo Olympics 2020. While it touched upon my learnings from the game of cricket briefly, this post is essentially a long-form version of it.

Cricket is one sport that I have enjoyed watching and playing growing up. The game has undergone many changes in the past few decades, some good and some bad. While it has 42 written Laws and a 1000 nuances, at its core, it is simply about putting bat to ball. These are some of the lessons I picked up from this game which has helped me in both life and business.

Patience – It isn’t over until the last ball is bowled

Cricket is a sport that requires a lot of patience. The longest format of the game is played over 5 days. It teaches you the value of patience and staying in the game till the last ball. Playing and watching the game over so many years has taught me to be patient and play the long game in life.

Momentum

Momentum is significant in sports. You will not be able to see it in the score sheet at the end of the day, but momentum can swing a game in your favour or against you very quickly. In life, too, you can use momentum to your advantage to seize the day. Something as simple as getting the small items checked off your To-Do list at the start of the day can give you a lot of momentum to take on the more daunting tasks.

Knowing your blind spots

In Cricket, a good batsman is always aware of where his off stump is. It allows him to leave deliveries that he shouldn’t be poking at. A parallel to this in life is knowing your risk appetite when it comes to decisions regarding your finances or career.

Respect the conditions

First day, first session on the swinging pitches of England, you don’t go out thinking about smashing every ball to the boundary. You wait it out. You leave balls in the 4th stump line and bide your time till the ball gets old. Once you have survived the morning session, then you start scoring. Tired bowlers and an old ball will give you plenty of opportunities to score runs. In business, market conditions can throw you off your growth trajectory. It doesn’t help if you stay stubborn and try to outspend and buy growth during these times. You have to respect the conditions, cut costs and wait it out sometimes for the condition to improve. Survival is key.

Mindset is everything

Test matches are played session by session. Each session gives you a chance to start fresh. If you lose a session and carry over the impact to the next, you are sure to lose that session as well. Getting into the right mindset – a positive frame of mind at the start of each session is important to get back in the game. In business, you might have a tough few days or months or a quarter. However, if you let that affect the company’s overall morale, you will soon descend into a tailspin. The key for you as a leader is to get your team in the right mindset no matter how horrible things have gone previously.

Nothing beats match practice

Whenever a team tours a country, they play practice matches with the local teams as part of their preparation. One such match played is worth watching 1000 hours of footage of opposition bowling and strategising through the night. Nothing beats match practice. Similarly, you can read all the books and theorise as much as you want in life, but actually rolling up your sleeves and doing the work will give you a better perspective.

Challenge status quo

Cricket has a Decision Review System where if you feel that the umpire is wrong, you can challenge their decision. If you are right, the umpire’s decision gets overturned. Just because a decision comes from a figure of authority doesn’t mean that it can’t be challenged. In fact, encouraging a culture of dissent and questioning in your teams can help you build a stronger team.

Horses for courses

Cricket has 3 established formats. The 5-day game or the Test, the 50 over game or the One Day International and the 20 over game or the T20. All these formats demand a certain set of skills from the players. There are very few players in international cricket who play across all three formats. Many teams even have different captains across formats. A horses for courses policy is at play here. When we build teams, we tend to hire people who think along similar lines. While this ensures that there are hardly any conflicts within the team, this might not be the best way to build a team that delivers results. You need to onboard people who bring something different to the table and add to the team’s strengths rather than filling it with people who all think and act the same way.

Fortune favours the brave

Outside edges that fly over the slip cordon are a common sight during the slog overs. This happens when a batter goes hard at a ball with full conviction but fails to middle it. Half measures and indecision can cause more pain in life and business than being wrong. Sometimes it is essential to make a decision and throw the kitchen sink at it rather than doubting yourself.

After all, it is just a game.

When you are out on the field, you play hard. You give your everything, but once the last ball is bowled, you must move on from the game and not carry the baggage with you.  When all is said and done, it is just a game.

If you enjoyed reading this article, here is a similar article on my learnings

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