Saturday, October 24, 2015
In his book Simplicity, Edward De Bono talks about how needlessly complex modern life has become, what with super-complex gadgets, smartphones (literally meaning you need to be smart to use them!), sundry electrical and electronic goods that come with manuals looking like rocket science equations, smart TVs and cars and what not! In fact he advocates an international “simplicity movement”, that includes setting up of a simplicity institute et al. While many of us may disagree with the extent of complexity in our lives and may debate to what extent this needs a thought, there is no doubt that all of us could do with a little bit of de-cluttering of our lives and minds, and make our lives a wee bit less complex so as to enable us to unearth our full potential and live stress-free, happy and fulfilling lives. No one epitomizes, or has epitomized simplicity as much over the last decade and half as a certain Virender Sehwag- that freak of nature, that one-in-a-generation cricketer and bender of set rules- he answers to all those descriptions and more, but perhaps his biggest impact on thinkers to come will extend far beyond cricket and organized sport, it will lead into territories of the mind, and will embody the fact that simplicity and clutter-free approach can take one places, and enable one to even go beyond boundaries that our minds, latent capabilities and our social and professional circles set for us. Sehwag announced his retirement this week, and while it was along expected lines, and does make one sad remembering all his cavalier knocks against top attacks around the world, it is also a good occasion to take a peek at his approach and understand where it all came from. There were occasions wherein he has let us take a look into his thinking pattern. When asked what he thinks about when facing a bowler, he had famously replied “see ball, hit ball”- a term which has moved into folklore now, and may well be used in future to denote a certain brand of irreverence and uncluttered thinking. Think of all the seemingly ridiculous things he has done- dispatching the first ball of a test for four, scoring run-a-ball triple hundreds, hitting a six while on 297, the list is endless. His record is also phenomenal for someone deemed a slogger when he burst onto the international scene, and one who wasn’t technically as gifted like a Tendulkar or as solid as a Dravid. It defies all conventional logic and confounded critics and experts alike, and therein lies the great success of his theory, or thinking if you like. It was not that he didn’t think, in fact, his planning was surprisingly effective and intelligent, whether it be targeting an opposition bowler on the field, or unsettling a team with his candid comments in the press conferences, but even that part of his rarely ventured into over-analysing, it was simple goal setting and sharp execution, and being in the moment. He had mastered the art of simple thinking- to the extent that he had successfully removed all self-doubts, all needless worrying which most of us are prone to, by creating anxiety-inducing situations in our minds, it was almost as if he had eliminated the “what if” question from his mind, and this, in a way, had liberated him. It set him free to chase impossibility, cause as they say, impossible is only in the mind, and the only hurdles we have in chasing our goals are the ones we create for ourselves. In removing all that, he, in a way, was free to paint his own canvas, which he did with great joy and elan. Life, really, is quite simple, if we can strip it down to its basics. It’s ultimately about being healthy and happy- yes, that simple, if you really think about it. Formal education while creating our bases and foundations also does introduce formal thinking bound by conventional ideas of what is possible and what’s not, which in turn adds to the clutter in our minds, and introduces us to conventional notions of success and expectations, adding to our stress and dissatisfaction levels. What use is all of it if we aren’t healthy and happy at the end of it all, really? Thus, strangely enough, a rustic man playing cricket offers us some simple idioms to follow in life, most of it unknowingly, I presume! De-clutter your mind, plan simple and effective goals with sharp execution, be in the moment, believe in yourself and your ability to do the impossible, and most importantly, have truckloads of fun while the journey lasts, and spread some cheer around while you are at it!