The Winning Ways: Notes from the Bhogles on what winners are made of

Cricket fans have known Harsha Bhogle to be the face of Indian cricket broadcasting and look forward to his expert views and interesting anecdotes to better their cricket viewing experience.

There is an another face of Bhogle that many may not know about – he and his wife Anita Bhogle are among India Inc.’s most sought after corporate trainers. Harsha and Anita Bhogle created a motivational workshop series, ‘The Winning Ways’ that contains lessons for business professionals to learn from the world of sports, and have conducted multiple sessions across corporate India. Their recently launched book with the same title is a compilation of the messages they delivered through their training sessions and presents many ‘lessons for managers from sports’.

Harsha and Anita Bhogle introduce the concept of a winning triangle, which is made up of ability, attitude and passion – the ingredients one needs in order to win.

At the outset, the authors state their strong belief in the fact that the formula for winning is same in any field. The book is a result of what they have witnessed up-close in the lives of many sportsmen and their interactions with senior executives from top organisations across the country.

Creating the winning habit

The authors start by listing out some of the common characteristics or habits of winning teams. Winning teams have a special aura around them that distinguishes them from rest of the pack – like the LA Lakers or Real Madrid or the Australian cricket team of the nineties. Winning teams tend to attract fresh and better talent and create an atmosphere where the talent is nurtured to contribute to the team’s winning. In the same sense, the authors say in order to keep the winning cycle going it is important to cull or get rid of players at the right time and substantiate this by pointing out that Australia got rid of stars like Ian Healy and Steve Waugh at the right moment (much earlier than the players wanted to leave themselves). Winning teams have been defined by a ‘can-do’ attitude and are known to ‘take hope away’ from the opposition to the extent that the opponents start to worry and lose focus on their own game. Further, they explain how winners have a different body language and thereby, a look of their own.

The Bhogles stress on a very important topic in personal/professional development – goal setting. I like their unique definition of a goal to be a dream with a deadline. Basically, they explain the different types of goals like individual goals, team goals, performance goals and stretch goals, and the importance of setting challenging goals that could be out of reach, but never out of sight. They add one must aim to have a short-term goal with a larger objective in mind and break-down a long term goal into easily achievable short-term targets.

The winning triangle

In delivering what I believe to be the key message of the book, Harsha and Anita Bhogle introduce the concept of a winning triangle, which is made up of ability, attitude and passion – the ingredients one needs in order to win. They base this on the premise that talent alone is not enough and justify it by using the often quoted example of how both Sachin Tendulkar and his mate Vinod Kambli are equally talented, but Sachin made it big and Kambli missed the bus somewhere. Being resourceful is more important than just having all the resources or rather it is about how one channelizes ability with the right temperament and attitude to achieve true success. They hit the nail when they say that many individuals are blessed with extraordinary talent, but very few combine it with true grit, perfect work ethic and abundant passion to become greats like Sachin Tendulkar and chess legend Vishwanathan Anand.

The book also mentions other aspects like the side-effects of winning, the extra responsibility that comes with it and managing success. The authors go on to elaborate on the need to adapt and conquer change in order to win. The case of classic test players changing their game to suit the Twenty-20 format could be the best possible example to illustrate change management. Harsha’s interest and knowledge about Indian hockey is evident when he explains at length the reason for the Indian team’s downfall from super power status namely, their inability to adapt to the latest artificial Astroturf fields. The piece on the crucial leadership quality is supported by some interesting anecdotes involving some of the greatest captains in cricket – Imran Khan, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Sourav Ganguly.

Finally, the book ends with a brilliantly written afterword by Rahul Dravid on what it means to play as a team. I liked the synopsis boxes at the end of each chapter summarising the content in bullet points. In a book about winning, the authors have aptly included a chapter on losers and what one can learn from losing too. My only criticism is that there seems to be more about sports in the book and the authors could have made more direct comparisons to the field of business making it easier for the reader to identify and grasp the real learning.

On the whole if you are a sports fan, this is a great read and I would tend to classify it under sports category rather than business or self-help.

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