If you came here looking for something more than just an Evan Carmichael-style “Virat Kohli’s Top 10 Rules for Success”, then you’re in for a treat. Or that is what I would like to think so. Evan, you are welcome for the 10-odd readers of my blog who might now visit your YouTube page. I hope against hope that you too give me a shout-out one day on your 1.5 million subscribed YouTube channel.
This caricature presents a more in-depth account of select principles Kohli unflinchingly abides by and the tremendous influence they have had on my mental acuity and physical shape. Please bear in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list; instead, it is an aggregation of his most impactful values from a personal standpoint.
Anyway, enough with the foreplay. Let’s get to the meat of it.
SIMPLE ACTIONS DELIVERING SEXY RETURNS
Time and time again, Kohli has claimed:
If I work 120% everyday, I am answerable to no one.
While short on words, this quote is long on wisdom. To maximize clarity, let me break this gem into two parts:
- work 120% everyday
Kohli takes it each day as it comes. While the overnight success story may grab all the headlines, sustainable advantages in life are not based on drama; they are rather the byproduct of carrying out a disciplined routine day in and day out. Winning each day’s battle has a tremendously compounding effect, which ultimately culminates in winning the war.
Kohli regards 2016 to be his breakthrough year and rightly so given the staggering numbers that he amassed. He attributes much of the year’s success to keeping it simple. Drawing inspiration from the power of Kohli’s example, starting 2017, I sought to conquer each day as it came. This meant following a mundane yet very rewarding daily routine. This entailed being a sponge when it came to learning at work, deliberate practice at the gym, making healthy decisions in the kitchen, amongst others, on a daily basis. While each day did not materialize according to plan, I was, for the most part, gaining confidence with each passing day. In my short life thus far, I would regard 2017 as being my breakthrough year. Through deliberate practice and daily repetitions, I inculcated certain keystone habits, which continue to pay dividends.
- answerable to no one
As Captain of the Indian Cricket Team, you constantly come under the scanner. Expectations are sky-high and the number of “experts” even higher. Every action, both on and off the field, is dissected and scrutinized by 1.3 billion+ devotees of the religion of cricket. One misstep and you go from hero to zero in no time.
By conscientiously executing his blueprint and canceling out all the external noise, Kohli began to accrue tremendous results. He felt more at peace mentally, which allowed him to express himself on the field unrestrictedly.
Over the last year and a half, I have developed the mettle to trust my judgement more. Prior to that, especially in college, I used to allow my mind to be clouded by the perceptions and judgements of others. This led to what Buddhism terms as the ‘monkey mind’.
I know full well that the opinions of family members and friends are well-meaning. Having said that, those opinions are a reflection of their respective values, which may not necessarily align with my set of values. I continue to feel grateful for the well-intentioned suggestions and acknowledge all of them; however, I do not necessarily feel compelled to act on them. I back up my own judgement and take ownership of not just the successes but also the setbacks.
UNWAVERING SELF-BELIEF THROUGH THICK AND THIN
I regard self-belief as the fuel that is needed to work 120% everyday. Even the most potent of performance-enhancing drugs prescribed by your trusty drug-dealer will come up short against the power of self-belief.
Through the synergistic results of hard work and self-belief, Kohli has learnt to replace pressure with confidence. Thus, even when experiencing a poor run of form, Kohli understands that just as sometimes the good times come to a temporary halt, darkness too comes with an expiration date.
Despite proving to myself time and time again that I have the ability to conquer challenges meted out to me at work and at play, my self-belief always remained fickle. The example set by Kohli has spurred me to keep my belief-system intact even in the face of adversity.
After spending a tad over a year within Goldman’s Securities Division, I began gunning for a move to the firm’s crown jewel – the Investment Banking Division. Despite putting my best foot forward for months at a stretch, I just couldn’t seem to catch a break. Instead of calling it quits on my pursuit, I continued to keep at it. Armed with the confidence that stems from sound preparation, I believed that it was only a matter of time before my honest efforts would pay off.
My former self would have ended the pursuit prematurely and attributed the unfavourable outcome to a lack of merit. My Virat-inspired self understood the magnitude of the challenge that breaking into Banking entailed. Instead of undermining my merit, I believed that there were other factors at play, behind the scenes, that were beyond my control. Thus, the best I could do was to diligently focus on what was within my control i.e. to labour and to wait.
The efforts came to fruition in spectacular fashion when I was extended an offer in late 2017. This further corroborated my view that ability and self-belief make for a truly lethal combination. [ 1 ]
RADICAL HONESTY TO YOURSELF AND TO YOUR ENDEAVOUR
I interpret being radically honest to yourself as acting in a manner that is consistent with your personal set of principles. I consider it a great disservice to yourself when your decisions are guided by the need to conform to society.
A prerequisite to being honest to yourself entails understanding yourself. Spending time reflecting in managed solitude has aided me remarkably in truly understanding what makes me tick.
I interpret being radically honest to your endeavour as being respectful of it. In addition to feeling a strong sense of attachment to it, this entails being willing to stick to your guns even when the early returns do not make for pretty reading. In other words, as a mark of respect to your endeavour, choose grit (passion + perseverance) over short-term greed. All in all, be true to your endeavour and your endeavour will be true to you.
In my book, a prime example of dishonesty to one’s endeavour originates from the world of fake natural bodybuilders, who are as natural as silicone implants. Your Lazar Angelovs of the world make a handsome living by deceiving naive followers into thinking that their perfectly sculpted bodies are simply a result of healthy eating and disciplined training.
“YOU EITHER WIN OR YOU LEARN”
There is no concept that I find more liberating than “you either win or you learn”. This simple yet elegantly profound notion takes the pressure off you. It gives you the license to explore more, be curious, be experimentative.
I would have never thought I’d be devoting time towards building my blogging platform one day. However, by breaking the shackles, the aforementioned principle has enhanced my propensity to take calculated risks. It has instilled into me the belief that regardless of how much / little sense my endeavour makes on paper to others, the dots will connect going forward.
The concept has parallels to the old aphorism “learn to fail or fail to learn”. Ray Dalio also sums this up beautifully:
The “pain of failure” should lead to reflection, from which your wisdom derives.
PLAYING FIRE WITH FIRE
I had taped the following two pictures to my computer monitors at work. Right adjacent to the monitors stood my father’s photo frame. Thus, by having them in the same league as my father in terms of sources of inspiration, you can hopefully imagine how instrumental their role was.
Whenever down and out at work, the above image had the contagious effect of lifting my spirits. It reminded me to compete fiercely and arm myself with a healthy level of arrogance and aggression in the high-octane Banking environment.
I was initially on the fence with regard to whether I wanted to detail what the above picture of Kohli confronting an Australian batsman is symbolic of to me. Although it conveys a very personal message, I felt that I wouldn’t be honest to myself or to the readers of this post if I kept the raw symbology unmasked.
During the 7 years I spent in the United States, I never felt a permanent sense of belonging to the country. I always felt like an outsider to some extent and believed that it was only a matter of time before I would sail East again.
I do not attribute even an iota of this feeling to the country and its citizens, who were always very welcoming and respectful to me. Instead, these sentiments stem from my own insecurities and concoctions.
Indians [ 2 ] in America constitute a minority, at least in number. Moreover, I personally felt that, in general, the demeanour of Indians, at least at Georgia Tech, was more meek and docile compared to that of their American counterparts. This irked me given that, while in America, I considered myself a proud Ambassador of India.
Thus, instead of being even remotely submissive, I used to bend over backwards to make my Indian identity and my presence felt. It was almost as if I had a chip on my shoulder in a bid to showcase what my countrymen were made of. This was especially true during my time in Banking where Indians were a very rare breed.
Having said that, there was never any malice or bitterness in my actions or words. The image simply served as motivation that, despite not feeling an organic sense of belonging, I, too, could rise to the occasion.
THE BREVITY OF LIFE AND THE INEVITABILITY OF DEATH
Believe it or not, it was this video of Kohli explaining his tattoos that served as a mini-epiphany for me about the finite nature of life. I know you are probably thinking that the “one life, live it up” idea is one that every Tom, Dick, and Harry throws out. I agree; however, the same idea tends to resonate with you more when a figure you look up to sheds light on it.
Kohli applies this principle to the way he plays his Cricket as well. Recognizing that professional cricketing careers last for only 15-20 odd years at most, he is possessed by a desire to make each day count.
Confronting the reality of my own mortality spurs me to devote my energy to what really matters to me. It teaches me to be more “present” instead of perpetually brooding over the past or about the next rung on the ladder.
As they say, the days are long but the years are short. If you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you’re just pissing on the present.
For the first 23 years of my life, everyday was a “rest day” in fitness parlance. In fact, I am probably giving myself too much credit by calling it that; it would be more apt to label each day as a “cheat day”.
My initial few months at Goldman were far from being smooth sailing. My first role at the firm entailed work that did not quite align with my set of interests and values. Slowly but surely, I was losing my sense of purpose. My self-esteem and confidence had hit rock bottom. While I may have felt that it was not completely my fault for finding myself in this trough, I knew that it was my responsibility for digging myself out of it.
In late 2016, I happened to come across this video where Kohli describes the positive influence that being physically fitter had on his mental fortitude. The power of Kohli’s words equipped me with the courage to enter uncharted territory i.e. the gym.
This is just what the doctor ordered! The gains were not limited to the body; they were doing wonders for my mind as well. By starting a chain effect, my improving physical condition was enabling me to perform at an optimal level in all areas of my personal and professional life. This is what makes physical exercise such a keystone habit.
The beauty of fitness lies in the fact that there is no cap on how much you can improve. The ‘it’ in ‘I have made it’ or the ‘there’ in ‘I have gotten there’ is dynamic. They are quick to redefine themselves by moving farther as soon as they are temporarily met.
Thus, as much as I would like to sprint the fitness marathon, I understand the importance of being long-term greedy in this everlasting cycle of challenge-progress-goal-challenge.
While the application of Kohli’s principles may have resulted in strong returns on various fronts, progress on two fronts in particular leaves a lot to be desired. These pertain to boasting a beard as beautiful as his and an equally beautiful wife. I am responsible for rectifying both as much as my mother would like to assume responsibility for the latter.
I have no doubt that as long as I stay true to the aforementioned principles, these aspects will take care of themselves as well!
Which value was your personal favourite? Has anyone, celebrity or non-celebrity, had a similarly profound influence on your make-up?
Do let us know in the comments section below!
If you have not yet read my previous post titled “My Captivating 2018 Brooklyn Half Marathon Experience”, please give it a shot and let me know what you make of it.
Coming soon: What Goldman Sachs, the sharpest-clawed of Wall Street’s financial beasts, taught me
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[ 1 ] Ability is achieved through deliberate practice and habit. Habit, as described by Stephen Covey, is “the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do)”.
[ 2 ] By “Indians” here, I am referring to non-US citizens who have lived a majority of their living years outside of the United States.
[ 3 ] I will be penning down a more comprehensive post on my fitness journey.