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Dipesh Majumdar

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Book Review: The habit of winning

March 10, 2012

Prakash Iyer composed this book from the various experiences from his own life and few references from other self help materials. It gives an account of some very good and rare events - like after Attapatu's debut of test in Srilanka, he had to toil for 6 more years to score his second test run, having been dropped from team 3 times in between. Some of the other interesting anecdotes, stories and narration from this audio book are mentioned below, though not in the same order...
 
David, the sculpture made by Michelangelo was once a block of useless marble lying for eons. So many people saw it but no one had the idea that it could be of any value. Michelangelo had a different perspective of looking at this block. He had different plans. Constant chiseling, chipping and hammering helped transform it to one of the greatest masterpieces of all time.
 
The person who climbs a mountain can succeed or fail. What is important is a tough attitude, loads of determination and guts. What else is required? Anything missing? Yes, the most important thing required to succeed is the MOUNTAIN itself. That is the goal.

Again too many goals can confuse one. You can't focus. You have to go one at a time.  If there are 9 rabbits and you want to catch one, you have to concentrate only on one.

There are some insightful events cited from past innings of Indian Cricketing stars like Sachin, Uthappa and Kumble. Some very unknown facts like Marvan Attapattu strived for 6 years to score his second test run. When Navjot Singh Sidhu was dropped from India team after he performed awfully, a critic's harsh vilification and the ensuing sorrow rendered to his father proved to be the impetus for his success.

One in difficult times should remember this - breaking the cocoon for a caterpillar to enable the potent butterfly within to fly can prove costly as the cocoon (hindrance) made by nature builds up the necessary strength required for the butterfly to fly. The early entry of Suresh Raina in Indian team had the same effect on his career.
 
There is a classic case of a short-height basket ball player who makes for his lack of height by his other areas of strenghts (fortes). Michael Phelp converts his physical oddity into something that helps him push ahead in water, the only determining factor that gives him the edge over others.
 
Sometimes the best thing to do in a particual situation is to not do anything. For example a goal keeper committing his dive in a particular direction decreases his chance of saving the ball.

'Acres of Diamond' - might sound cliched for those who read Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) books. But it is reiterated here to emphasize the point that we should try to seek for prospertity in the present situation, job, condition rather than always struggling/planning/craving for a change - a job change, a divorce and remarriage, a change of location etc.
 
The author talks about mental barriers. He cites Robin Sharma's allusion to the invisible barriers. It takes a long time to break a record. But once broken several others start surpassing the benchmark in quick succession.
 
I also liked - The story of two earthen pots, the 1 degree extra attitude, the way mixing of sugar in milk has been compared with having an impact on the team by a good leader. I am not elaborating on that because that will be a spoiler.
 
There is a strong emphasis on giving. A cow and dog have been used as metaphors to symbolize giving and taking mentality. Cow always gives - milk, manures, leather and other useful things and dog always snatches, fights for territory, food, bones etc.

Perception is important in life. We see the world through windows of our mind. If these windows are dirty, patchy and grimmy we have wrong understanding of the world - its time then, to clean those windows and more often than not we will be startled to discover the world as a beautiful place and the fault was actually within our own selves.
 
There are some good punch lines like - In dictionary or in life, success never comes ahead of struggle.
 
Leading from the front - True leaders not only focus up the hierarchy level but also  downward - which includes the delivery boy, the peon, security guards and so forth. Being associated with them, knowing their problems and pains, knowing their names and so on can go a long way in establishing a good organization.

Now the negative points about this book -

As the audio book went on, it was somewhat long drawn out and little boring at times. Little pithy and the audio session could have been better.

Too much of incidents were cited from cricket, and that too only cricket in Inda and mediocre players like Irfan Pathan, Uthappa and Suresh Raina were mentioned in the examples. There are many great achievers than these players and why not use their examples? Why not talk about China which has so many olympic golds, and so many players accomplishing the impossible? Our hockey pride Dhyanchand, shooter Abhinav Bindra or badminton sensation Saina Nehwal could have easily got a place ahead of these cricketers.

Overall, it was a nice and enjoyable hearing (mind you it's an audio book). Good work Prakash Iyer!

By the way, I bought the cd from Landmark (in Forum Mall, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore) and heard it. It was not a downloaded track or borrowed from a friend. (Though it is another story that when I saw the same book at a whopping Rs. 80 less in infibeam.com, my heart sank!) When you buy an original music cd or a piece of art, a percentage of the money goes to the author who had taken immense pain to create it in the first place. It's good to promote artists for their creation and give them their due!

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