Never Give Up

The match was poised at a crucial phase.24 needed, just 2 wickets remaining. The starting player of our team was on strike. We were confident he would take us through. He scored 12 in five balls. He wanted to keep strike for the last over, so he tapped the next ball and scampered for a single. Alas!! The fielder ran in fast and threw directly at the stumps. It was a run out. We were shocked by the turn of events. We were left with our number 10 and 11 batsmen who rarely bat. The batsman on strike in the last over had so far played three balls and had failed to make contact with the bat. One ball, two, three, four: story was repeated and he failed repeatedly. For the fifth ball, he stood steady and hit the ball straight over the bowler. It was a six!!!! Suddenly, the tables turned. The pressure was now on the fielding team. My team went berserk in the pavilion. We were all screaming encouragement at the top of our voices. The batsman had hit a six for the first time in 32 years. He seemed to be more in shock than everyone else on the ground. Advice was thrown at him from all sides on how to play the ball. He looked at me. I put my hand on my heart. It signified BELIEF. I smiled at him and assured him with my smile. The bowler came steaming in and bowled a short ball. The batsman went back into the crease and hit it to mid-wicket region and sailed over the boundary. We won: an impossible victory!!!!

When the frenzy of celebrations ended, I looked to my teammates and repeated my life mantra: NEVER GIVE UP. KEEP GOING. GIVE IT YOUR BEST!!!!

I have seen many such instances in sports and in life, where the perennial underdog snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

In my last job, there was a sales trainee who joined us. He was sent to Delhi as a punishment posting; to be “grinded” by the sales veterans like me. It was a “Shape Up or Ship Out” deadline for him. I asked HR to arrange an interview with him. I asked him about his difficulties and other challenges faced by him. He gave the usual list of excuses. He implored me to teach him about Sales: How to speak, what to say, sales process etc. I told him to go home. He was shocked. The HR guy jumped out of his seat. He was losing his mind. The trainee looked at me in stunned silence. I told him to take a couple of days off and decide. Decide what? I wanted him to decide if he wanted a career in Sales; if he wanted to do it for the rest of his life. If yes, then I asked him to meet me after two days or else he should meet HR and find a different mentor. If he wants to work with me, he should come to the office with an indomitable will. A will to give his 100% to the purpose helped him become a respected sales professional.

Within a day, he called me and told me that he wants to work with me. After that, there was not much to do. Every other aspect of his training was a cakewalk. He did his work diligently, with a purpose and determination rare for a human being. He never gives up, no matter how overcoming the odds seem to be. In fact, he was at his best with the challenges that were the most difficult, like the COVID lockdown. He was promoted twice in two years. People are amazed at his transformation. Ask him his secret and he says, “Never, Ever Give Up”.

It is easier said than done. The business of living can be overwhelming. The pressures are unbelievable at times. People sometimes find it easier to just roll over and let their problems step on them. Don’t. Keep fighting, keep going, and keep trying till your body gives up: Never allow your mind to fail you. Do not forget to take help from the right people and pursue your challenges with a plan. But do not lose sight of the path to reach your desired goals because your mind says otherwise. Train your mind. Meditate. Pray. Live and care for others. Align yourself with God and watch how your life is transformed. It is not going to be a picnic; the ride will be rough, but ride with the determination and will power to see things through. Things work out in the end, they have to. Your destiny will not have any excuses to stop you.

I always draw analogies in life from sports. The greatest athletes succeed not because of the talent or hard work that is anyways needed. They succeed because they control what happens inside their head. Outcomes of high-pressure situations; in sports or in life can be controlled to a larger extent than what we perceive. Look at all the great athletes in the world-Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, PV Sindhu, Serena Williams, Roger Federer to name a few; they honed their skills with lots of hard work, but what separates them from the rest is their mental strength.

People say that they have been blessed with strong mental faculties. I am sure they were blessed with a strong mindset. But like all skill sets, mental strength and will power are the muscles of the mind that need to be strengthened by exercise. We all need to do this exercise. Like I said earlier, this can be done in a variety of ways. Select yours.

Suresh Nair