How many of us worry about the results when we do a task? For example when we take an exam, make a sale or execute a project? How many of us would like to do the task without any stress? How many would like to get the best results we can, whatever we do?
There is a secret for achieving the best we can, without worries and stress.To elaborate further, I will like to share a story about a soccer (also known as “football” in many countries) game years ago. I was the coach for a boys’ soccer team, aged 12 & 13, in a Southern California city. The name of our team was “The Heat”.
As many of us know, these youth leagues games can become very competitive. Our city was no different. After a series of preseason scrimmages, we had our first game against a very well coached team. Their coach had the reputation of being a semi-professional soccer player in his past; I had no such credentials. Further, making my situation even worse, my Assistant Coach Dave could not attend and help me in the game on that day, because of a prior work related commitment. The game was played on September 7, 1991, there were around 50 people watching the game.
The game started at its scheduled time of 3 PM. While the opponents were all charged up, our team did not look at all energetic and it showed in the results. Our team was down 3-0 by half time. We were all stunned.
During the halftime break, I did not know what to tell the team. The boys expected a lot of yelling from me, but I just could not say anything. I let them finish their snacks and cold drinks. Then, I finally found my voice and slowly and softly addressed the boys. I said “I am not mad that we are down 3-0, but I am very disappointed that we are not playing and executing our game, the game Coach Dave and I taught you.” I further emphasized that they were being selfish with the ball,over dribbling instead of passing, being lazy on defense and not playing as a team. I finally said “Don’t worry about the result. Play the game, we have taught you and even if we lose 6-0, I will be proud of you”.
“The Heat” was a totally different team in the second half. They were supercharged. The football was being played, passed, kicked, shot, hustled, slide tackled and defended. I was their cheer leader running up and down the side line, cheering, encouraging and instructing them. Our opponents were shut out and could not take shots on our goal. Just before the end of the 3rd quarter we scored a goal. At the quarter end, during the water break, I applauded the team and told them to keep up the pressure and maintain their momentum. We scored two more goals by the middle of the 4th quarter. With the game tied 3-3 the other team got charged up and fiercely attacked our goal. However, we successfully defended and about 30 seconds before the final whistle scored another goal to win the game 4-3. Each of our team’s goals was scored by a different player. It was time for everyone else to be stunned.
That night, I kept thinking about what happened in the game. While growing up in India, we were occasionally told about an age old verse “Karmanye vadhika raste, ma faleshu kadachana… (you have the right to do the work but not to its results…..)”3. It is a verse from Sri Krishna’s1 sermon “Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord)”2 given over 5,000 years ago. It was and still is one of the most commented upon and misunderstood verses of his sermon. It sounds so self-contradictory that most of the people in India do not understand or follow it.
Still, it seemed to have been engraved in my subconscious mind; when facing a desperate situation, I had uttered a similar message to the boys on the soccer field that day. When I told them not to worry about the results, they could focus on the game without any stress, thus leading to superior performance in the second half. I decided to use this technique again and our team’s slogan became to “play the game as a team and for the game’s sake, and not worry about the results.”
The Heat went ahead to win 19 consecutive games winning our city’s Division Championship and the region’s Area Championship. In the next round, we unfortunately lost two key players, our sweeper Brian and goalie Matt to injuries and lost 2-1 in the semi finals of the Southern California Championship. Nonetheless, on the soccer fields of Southern California, these 12 &13 year old American boys had proven the power of “Karmanye vadhika raste, ma faleshu kadachana…”3
Play the game and do not worry about the results. Delinking the action from the attachment to the results takes away pressure and anxiety from the mind. One can then focus on doing the action perfectly, thereby improving the chances of success tremendously. Just imagine how much less stress it will be if we perform “action” without attachment to the results; and as we perfect the “action”, results will follow; and if we focus on the right actions, right results will follow.
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