Last week I was at Lord’s Cricket ground to watch England take on New Zealand.
It was the second day of a five day test match and things were hanging in the balance as the New Zealand team looked to be in moving into the ascendancy. Just then a chance came for a catch to one of the England fielders but it wasn’t taken and for the next few hours the England’s players watched while the batsman from New Zealand scored runs with relative ease.
It was at that moment that I remembered the voice of Jim Clarke, the ginger haired captain of Earlswood Cricket Club, the team I played for as a teenager.
‘Hands out of your pockets lad and let’s be walking in’ he’d shout just before the bowler ran in to try and remove the opposition batsman.
‘Walking in’ wasn’t just some phrase to motivate us, it was the physical act of taking a few steps forward as the bowler began his run up. It was an important and powerful way to ensure that we were all ready in mind and body.
You see, cricket is a game of patience. When fielding, a captain will set a plan to try and create pressure on the opposition batsman to force them into making a mistake.
Sometimes the chances can come quickly, other times they can take an age. Nonetheless when the moment arrives the captain relies on his fielders to be absolutely ready because he knows that another chance might not come again so soon.
Jim’s cry out to us made sure that we were always on our toes and that we were paying full attention to what was going. If ever he caught one of us drifting off or with our hands in our pockets we would definitely know about it!
Sadly, Jim died a few years ago at a young age. We weren’t just team mates, we were in the same class at school too.
Jim’s attitude of ‘always being ready’ doesn’t just apply to cricket.
I didn’t know it at the time but the captain’s rallying cry would turn out be a key lesson for success in life and in business.
When we are working towards a goal or outcome that we want to achieve, sometimes it can feel like nothing is happening. It can be incredibly frustrating, disheartening or soul destroying when all the effort you put in seems to lead to nothing.
In those moments it becomes easy to switch off, stick our hands into our metaphorical pockets and become distracted by other things going on.
But it is precisely in those moments when we have to keep our concentration and focus high. Just like the fielding team building pressure on a batsman, we have to be on our toes ready to pounce when the chance comes.
Now, let’s be honest here. Did we take every catch or chance that came our way when we were playing? No, of course not.
Were we always in the best position possible to try and take the chance? Yes absolutely.
You might not be able to take every chance that comes your way but at least you’ll be in a better position to give it your all if you are always ‘walking in’
The question I want to leave you with today is : – “what can you do each day to ensure you are always ‘walking in’ ?”
I’d love to hear your ideas and comments – feel free to post below.