Sachin Tendulkar scored his hundredth 100 yesterday, a milestone that no other cricketer will probably achieve in his lifetime. It is easy to get lost in the excitement of the moment and forget that his most recent milestone is a crowning feather on his 99 previous centuries in international cricket. Those 99 hundreds were, in my opinion, even more inspiring than this hundredth ton.
To me, Sachin has been an idol all life long. Like most other cricket fans, I feel extremely fortunate to have lived in the same day and age as Sachin. Such role models are rare and each of us in the current generation should feel grateful to have seen a living legend. I remember growing up watching sportsmen like Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Jordan, and Michael Schumacher excel in their individual arenas. Each of the three have had a profound impact on my youth, however one of them stands out way above the rest. Jordan and Schumacher had much shorter careers as compared to Sachin, who to the surprise to many, has continued to excel even after 22 great years in the game. Cricket is a physically and mentally taxing game and he has always made it look easy. Sachin continues to break all records with a remarkable humility that can only be fueled by an innate pool of motivation that he draws from.
Sachin has taught me how to lead by action rather than words. He has taught me that a human being’s never say die spirit can help him achieve remarkable things in life. He has taught me that life will throw you into tough situations but the only way to get through unscathed is to have your eyes firmly set on your higher goals and doing what do you need to do today to work towards those goals. One of my favorite pieces of writing is Clayton Christensen’s “How will you measure your life?“. The article talks about the fact that it is much easier to stick to your principles 100% of the time rather than 98% of the time. Its easier to ‘never compromise’ than it is to ‘compromise just this one time’. Sachin personifies this learning for me. He had numerous opportunities to cut corners, make dubious/questionable choices, or in general do something against his principles. However, he always chose to do the right thing.
People define leadership in many different ways. There have been some great leaders in Indian cricket such as Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble. However, if you had to pick one, it would be an easy choice. I find it remarkable that even at this late stage of his long career, Sachin runs every run like he is sixteen years old. The hunger to score that one extra run gives us a peek into his inner source of motivation. Sachin has crossed every milestone there is but when he is running that single run, he is doing so for his team. The only thing in his mind at that moment is what is best for the team. That hunger to succeed is the definition of leadership for me. That hunger inspires the 10 other men in the team to play each game like its their last game of their lives.