Virat Kohli: A management study like none other
While he has improved so much, he is still willing to go further and chase perfection.
If there’s an unusually high target that your sales team needs to achieve within record time, what do you do as the head of sales? Ask the team to achieve as many as they can? Or, ask the team to go ‘the full monty’ and deliver it all? Or do you break it down to daily targets? Accelerate when required and pacify the approach when you’ve achieved enough for a slot.
The last of the lot sounds feasible, right?
Go back to Hobart, 2012, chasing a mammoth 321, not off 50 overs but in 40 overs or less to qualify for the finals of the tri-series (dependent on Sri Lanka losing the following game to Australia) Indians got off to a decent start, but the ask was still colossal. A young lad, all of 23 years old then, Virat Kohli stepped in to bat. He had had a sporadic season until then, and this was a huge moment in the game.
Another wicket here and Sri Lanka would have tightened the noose. But, this youngster from West Delhi -as he would go on to substantiate in the years to come- loved big occasions. What everyone saw as a perilous situation, he saw as a stage to dominate.
A couple here, a boundary there and an odd six off a loose ball. Unlike his captain, he didn’t want to leave it until the end. His busyness at the crease meant that the asking rate was still high, but never beyond reach. When he knew he was within touching distance, he picked one bowler (the best of the lot): Lasith Malinga and hammered him for 24 runs!
Suddenly, this young boy from Delhi was leading a run-chase like he had done it for ages. Like a sage who knows it all, Virat marshaled the run-chase as if he had already mapped it in his brain before coming in to bat.
And there’s your lesson right there. When the target in front of you is gargantuan, you have two choices, either bow down and shrug saying, ‘let’s see’ or break it down into smaller targets and achieve it like Virat does. That night in Hobart, he said he treated the game like two games of T-20 needing 160 from each half. That’s some way to look at huge targets, isn't it?
Talent, grit and temperament
What do you do when in a group assignment your teammate is incapacitated but refuses to leave the team. In the process of which this teammate not only slows the progress of the work done but also reduces your efficiency. Do you get peeved and complain? Or, perhaps, leave the job at hand and paint the guilt on the incapacitated teammate?
In the must-win Group Stage encounter against Australia in the WT20, 2016 at Mohali, Yuvraj Singh twisted his ankle in a crunch run-chase with Kohli at the other end. Yuvi refused to leave the field and persisted with his batting.
This slowed Virat as well, because not only was strike rotation an issue now, but Yuvraj was also struggling to time the ball well. For someone who hates losing, the easiest option out for Kohli would have been to vent his anger out and lose his resolve.
But, the erudite maven that he becomes while chasing targets, Virat kept batting. Kept doing his bit. When Yuvraj finally got out to an excellent catch from Shane Watson and in came MS Dhoni, Virat knew the time was right.
Like that SUV with a sophisticated gear transmission system, Kohli metamorphosed from the Drive mode to the Sports mode almost instantaneously. Running hard, piercing the gaps, hitting boundaries and lofting deliveries for sixes. Not for once did it seem that the lean period had flustered Kohli.
He knew the importance of the occasion and also the value of his wicket. He knew he couldn’t be held back by what happened to Yuvraj.
So often in life, in a crunch situation when something pulls us down, instead of rising above it, we give in to the tendency of painting the guilt elsewhere and giving up. What if instead of giving up, we stay put and go through the grind. It would not guarantee a victory, but might just make it more probable.
The big change
During the 2013 IPL season, Kohli decided that he didn’t want to look the way he did back then. His mental image of an athlete was a complete departure from what he looked like back then.
To achieve what he desired, Virat established a strict dietary and workout regime. The result: once a chubby kid, Virat now has a body-fat percentage of just 9%. But, as soon as you mention that to him, he is prompt enough to tell you that Novak Djokovic has a body-fat percentage of just 7%.
While he has improved so much, he is still willing to go further and chase perfection. No wonder he can keep taking those quick runs and not get tired by so much running.
He identified his weakness and worked on it until he turned that into an asset that would reap him huge benefits. Imagine if we could do that to our brands! Identify the weak areas, and work relentlessly until we turn that weakness into an asset that reaps us benefits.
More than seven stitches on his left hand’s webbing in the middle of his dream run and a pivotal period in the IPL, 2016. He could have easily taken a game off. But, he chose to play, and in an almost godly inning in a rain-curtailed match, Virat scored 113 runs from just 50 balls. All of that, with over seven stitches on his left hand! What is your excuse for not giving your 100% to your job?
When life gives you lemons
One morning, a relatively young Kohli (only 18 years old) woke up to his father’s demise. Someone who had always been his friend, his mentor, and his ally. Virat’s support system was withdrawn from his life without any intimation.
At just a little over 18 years of age, Virat had (just like he would have on so many occasions in the future) two options. Either to sit home and grieve or to finish a job at hand. In an ongoing Ranji Trophy game between Delhi and Karnataka, Virat was to bat that morning. He remembered his father’s teachings of always putting his passion first.
That morning, after losing the better part of his world, an 18-year-old boy went out to bat for his Ranji side. And not only did he pull the team out of trouble but also scored valiant 90 runs before being adjudged caught behind wrongly.
In retrospect, that morning changed Virat’s life. It changed his life because he wanted to turn things around. Because he knew passion plus hard work opens doors for you like nothing else does. This morning, you have that option too. The door to greatness isn’t far.