Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime; and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When I began writing this book, I had a tough time deciding who should feature in the first chapter and what attribute of theirs should I describe first. Luckily, a management workshop that I conducted solved my quandary. During one of the sessions, I distributed a sheet of paper to all the participants with just two questions:

1. Which cricketer and corporate leader do you consider as the greatest of all times?

2. What is their most important attribute?

To my first question, more than 80% of the participants had written Sachin Tendulkar and JRD Tata. This was not surprising since Indians consider Tendulkar as the ‘God of Indian cricket’ and JRD Tata as one of the greatest visionaries of the Indian industry.

However, the answer to the second question stumped me!

I had expected the participants to pick from Tendulkar’s and Tata’s numerous enviable traits like competency, passion, dedication, people management skills, communication skills, and self-belief. Surprisingly, none of the participants chose any of these qualities. In fact, everyone had used the same attribute to describe the two great men — ‘humility’!

Later, while driving back home, I thought about the proceedings of the workshop. Tendulkar has excelled in cricket for more than two decades. He holds practically every cricket record. Similarly, JRD Tata’s qualities and achievements can fill an entire book. However, none of the participants cared about the number of runs Tendulkar had scored, nor the centuries he had hit. Neither did they care about the numerous companies that JRD Tata had established and led successfully.

What mattered to everyone in the room was their humility.

After some retrospection, I asked myself, ‘Why am I surprised?

If I too was a participant, wouldn’t I have mentioned exactly the same characteristic of theirs?’

Of course I would!

When I think of Tendulkar or JRD Tata, the first word that comes to my mind is ‘humility’.


This excerpt has been taken from ‘Pitch It!: Inspirational Stories from the Cricket Dressing Room to the Corporate Boardroom’ by Dev Prasad:

About the author

Dev Prasad is an IT professional residing in Bangalore. He secured his degree in Electronics & Communication Engineering from Regional Engineering College (now NIT), Trichy and done his MDP Program from IIM Bangalore. He has held senior management positions at various European and American Multinational Companies. Though an engineer by qualification, he has a wide range of interests. These include reading, writing, travelling, photography, study of mythology and listening to music. He likes creative writing and has worked as a part time freelance copywriter for three years for many advertising agencies. He has written many poems, one of which was selected by International Poets Association, USA. He is passionate about serving the society and has been associated with a few NGOs working for underprivileged children. He loves sports like cricket, badminton, table tennis and chess. His debut book Krishna: A Journey Through the Lands & Legends of Krishna was longlisted for 2010 Vodafone Crossword Award.


The Penguin India Blog

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