Kapil Dev on cricket, parenting and handling success
Today was a great day for me. I was invited by DSK School for inauguration ceremony of their annual sports meet, DSK Karandak. Mr. Kapil Dev, a legendary all rounder, was chief guest and Major General Mattoo, Chief Engineer, Southern command, presided over the function.
It was great joy to hear both of them talk to children and parents from the dais. I had a chance to share breakfast table with both of them and spent almost 20 minutes chatting.
Mr. Kapil Dev in his smiling, disarming and generous way was easy to talk to. He put me at ease within a minute with his firm handshake, warm smile and a sincere attention to my questions.
He talked about many things about cricketing days and childhood. Some of them are summarized here –
- Kapil’s parents did not pester him for studies. They always encouraged him to play a lot and once they realized that he spends lot of time working hard while other kids are just having fun, they encouraged him even more. He says that probably his family’s business background helped as there was not a lot of anxiety about his future all the time. Parents were concerned but did not play into their anxiety. Kapil also agreed that families with salary income and educational background tend to be very anxious and push their kids relentlessly. He observed that parents believe they missed out on many opportunities and want to make everything available to kids so that kids can have a better future. Though very noble, this mindset makes it difficult for kids.
- When he was growing up, Kapil spent long hours practicing and playing. Other kids went to movies, lazed around and had fun while he worked hard and had lot of fun playing cricket. He loved the game so much that hard work was his own drive and did not feel like a burden.
- When I asked him about how he handled the pressure of success, he had some gems to share. Kapil said that though the whole world is praising you, it must be put aside when you are with family and close friends. If your close ones start treating you like a hero then you are at a great loss. Your skill and achievements are restricted to the field of game and you must never falsely believe that no one should criticize you. There are smarter people outside the ground and one must be very careful. He also went on to praise his wife and siblings as source of genuine criticism and praise too. He told me that he will hear his today’s speech analysed by his close ones and they will give him suggestions. “As long as I listen to them and give them the right to be transparent to me, I am safe.”
One thing that came across again and again is how lightly he wears his success and fame. He was talking to the waiter, fans and all the people fussing over him with the same warmth. He was playing down 1983 Prudential Cup win as just one thing of his sporting career and was eager to point out that he is more comfortable when people talk to him as their “peer”.
I came away feeling that his real success is in staying grounded and being aware of the real perspective of life. All done with that famous big smile and a very warm heart. Good man indeed.