06 March 2021

Ranjan Madugalle’s notes on self-belief

We wrote in this column about journeys, leadership and ‘core-beliefs’  following a rare comment or rather a piece of advice offered by Ranjan Madugalle. This would be the fourth in what some might dub ‘Ranjan’s technique’.  He has been described after all as a technically correct bat by commentators back when he played for Royal, the NCC and Sri Lanka.  

So this is about circumstances. He said, ‘Never take a step back; don’t ever think you are only half as good just because you are born in a certain part of this world.’ Where you are born or rather the location of your family, say, in a structure that is marked by inequality, will of course determine to a certain extent the diga-palala of the universe of opportunity to better yourself. There are haves and have-nots. Economy counts. Location matters. We know all this.

What Ranjan says is essentially that you can give up or you can fight. You can fight against the odds or you can tell yourself ‘it’s beyond me, it’s not worth even trying.’ Yes, it could be beyond your reach, but that you will find out only if you’ve reached out.

Ranjan is about cricket, so let’s use a cricketing metaphor. Scoreboards. Scoreboard pressure. We’ve heard that term, haven’t we? The team batting first in white-ball cricket, for example, could put up a massive score. Immediately the team batting second is under pressure. They RRR (required run rate) can gnaw at them. They know that they’ve got to be within striking distance. They know they have to take risks and sometimes get the calculation all wrong. If the RRR keeps rising or if a couple of wickets are lost, the mountain they need to climb can seem steeper than first thought.

There’s always a mountain to climb though. No mountain is climbed by a hop, step and a jump. Some have a head start, good shoes (and an extra pair!) and have a map drawn for them that shows the least strenuous paths. Some just do not. They start from scratch. They have a longer way to go. They have poor shoes if they have any at all. No maps. No guides. They make their own maps. They learn what works and what does not the hard way. Yes, by falling.

However, they can after a fall decide to turn back or they can stand up and keep walking. That’s what most (but of course not all) of those who’ve succeeded in life (in sports, professions or anything else) have done. They’ve chosen to unshackle themselves from the fetters which constrain their minds.

Remember this, also. Someone might be born with all the advantages you never had, but this doesn’t necessarily mean he/she has a free and easy ride to the top. Even such people have to work hard. Think of it this way: just because someone seems to have more talent than the rest of his/her peers, it doesn’t mean he/she will invariably come out a champion. Talent can help, but it’s a small factor in all that it takes to overcome obstacles and walk the distance. It’s the same with ‘circumstances.’ Helps. Doesn’t mean a) that those who are ‘lucky’ will become ‘great’ or b) that those who are not are condemned to a pedestrian rating at the end of the day.

Self-belief, Ranjan says, is important. Back yourself, that’s what he is saying. Stop whining, that’s what he says. Be the best you can be but try to be even better than anyone, including yourself, expects.  

Other articles in the series titled 'The Interception' [published in 'The Morning']

Do you have a plan? Strengths and weaknesses It's all about partnerships
Not all victories are recorded