On Leadership: Failure Guaranteed – sometime, somewhere, somehow.

There is a remarkable cricket statistic than not many who love the game would believe or even dream possible. Yet it is.

Amongst all who play the game internationally, having your name inscribed at Lords Cricket Ground, the home of cricket, for either a batting hundred or an innings five-wicket haul if you are a bowler, is a highly prized achievement. Over the years many have had their name added to that list and some several times on both counts.

LordsHowever, were I to tell you that this honour has eluded four giants of the game I doubt very much that you would be able to name them all, especially given that we are talking here of players who would be considered the best of all time. The four who would all, without exception, rather not be in this elite club are: Sachin Tendulkar (India), Ricky Ponting (Australia), Jacques Kallis (South Africa) and Brian Lara (West Indies).

Hard to believe I know!

Yet it is true and furthermore, the highest individual total that this list of dignitaries of the game could muster at Lords was a paltry 54 (Lara).  As expected their respective averages at Lords don’t make pretty reading: Both Tendulkar and Lara averaged 21 (in 9 and 6 innings respectively), Ponting 8 (in 16 innings) and Kallis 10 (in 5 innings).

Really is hard to believe isn’t it?

Each one of these cricket geniuses with the willow failed miserably at the place where arguably it mattered most. It is however a mere blimp on their overall records and achievements in the game.

So what is the leadership lesson here?

Leaders fail; it is to be expected. No leader can finish with a 100% record and knowing that failure is part and parcel of the leadership journey is important. It is what will help keep you grounded, humble and a learner. You might wince at the failure and it might be something that will always leave a little scar or regret but never underestimate how important failure is to success. None of these great cricketers would try to hide their failure at Lords, they would perhaps give a shrug of their shoulders and point to their outstanding careers outside of this one context. And so they should.  Undaunted by their Lords failure these cricketers built reputations over the long haul; it is the overall picture that will be remembered and their Lords failure will never detract from all they achieved in the game.

Smart leaders understand the big picture; they keep perspective and accept personal failure for all it teaches. Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara and Kallis have no one to blame other than themselves for their Lords anomaly. Good leaders never shrink from the responsibility that is their failure and they come back another time, elsewhere, somehow to write the script that is the bigger picture.

Still, it must hurt when they look at the Lords honour board and see many a ‘lesser batsman’s’ name there whilst theirs is

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