Doing the right thing for no reason

Anmol Mohan
“The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.”
Vince Lombardi

Last week India completed a memorable test match victory over Australia.

Closer to victory, India needed 4 runs to win. The batsman played an outstanding cover drive which looked destined to reach the boundary. That should have been it. Everyone supporting India started blowing the victory horn already.

However, the fielder chasing the ball did not give up. He chased it till the boundary and dived desperately to save it. In the end, he managed to save 1 run. That means the scores were leveled. Over ended, all the fielders changed their positions, a new bowler started and it took 5 more deliveries for India to get that final run.

I kept wondering, why would that fielder chase and dive? He knew there was no way India would not be able to get that final run. Just letting the ball go and end the match would have been a valid option. It was a complicated situation, and there was no guarantee that diving would help to save 1 run. I don’t think the team member would have questioned his decision if he would not have ventured to stop the ball.

So his motivation was not a win for his country and not his reputation among teammates.

What else would have motivated him? He had to do extra work. He risked injury for something so inconsequential. Even all the team members had to do extra work to play out that extra run.

So I begin pondering about his state-of-mind. He would not have done it for the applause as there is no way for him to know it would be able to save that run. Since the ball was moving fast, there was not enough time for him to decide whether to chase the ball. Actually, it was an incentive for him not to chase the ball since it is moving fast.

No one told him how far he has to go, or how fast he has to run, or in which circumstances should he risk injury. No one was shouting at him. There were no rules which said if the ball is traveling at X km/hr, you have to chase and dive. There was no protocol except ‘Never Give Up!

But why?

Maybe he wanted to send a message to the opponents that, even though they have lost the game, they have not lost their spirits. They believe in themselves to come back stronger and fight again.

Maybe he wanted to challenge himself. Since he had nothing to lose, he just wanted to see if he could pull this off. He did it, and I am sure he had something to cheer even in this grim loss.

Maybe it was the promise to his team that he will guard that part of the boundary. It is not his decision to give up on it. If he had to give up, it is a joint decision that they can only take together. Since there is no time to get together and discuss, he had to do what he promised to do. Doesn’t matter if they would have agreed with him when he gave up.

That is why an action that has no real value feels so right. In fact, the lack of tangibility is what makes this action so special.

He was not thinking about any of this. He did not have enough time to think about his team, his promises, or his career. It was an impulse decision to go after the ball with full speed. At some point in the chase, he would have gotten the confidence that he can do it.

Nothing in it was by chance. It can only happen if you train and train hard. But you can only practice running hard. Can you discipline yourself to make the right decisions? Not unless you are educated with the right reasons. Not unless you believe that the spirit to win is more important than winning itself.

So, a naive answer would be: He was being professional. But I think it was much more than that. He was not just being professional. He was being great.

The real question is: how can we train ourselves to do the right thing? Understanding the right reasons might be a start.

Happy New Year!


Anmol Mohan

I am just trying to make sense of this world. I am interested in the hardest puzzles like Consciousness, Humanity and Multiverse. Sharing my honest learning during this journey.