In it to win it

After all, as the saying in sport goes, we are ‘in it to win it’. We all want that. We all recognise that.

Cricket is a complicated game, it seems. Many readers will know of the celebrated description of cricket to someone who has not come across it before: “You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out, try to get him out, and when he is out, he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.

When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.”

The reality, however, is that such an explanation does not help! So, let us simply summarise it in this way – the key thing about cricket is that it is important to be in, not out. Indeed, a good batter in cricket may wait for a bad ball to be bowled which will then be punished by being hit to the boundary.

A great batter, however, will not wait for the bad ball to be bowled but will bat in such a way that the bowler does bowl a bad ball, which is a good ball for the batter! Successful teams will take the game to the opposition, not simply react to the opposition.

After all, as the saying in sport goes, we are ‘in it to win it’. We all want that. We all recognise that.

But who is going to achieve that? The one who is ‘in it to win it’ is the one who begins by showing initiative. What then is initiative? Firstly, let us be clear, it is not initiation, nor imagination, nor innovation. In short, it is about being in it. It is about making decisions and taking responsibility. It is doing what is right without being told, asked or prompted.

It is not waiting for others to start or to do something. It is thinking for oneself; it is taking charge of a situation. It is making the first move. It is about being the initial, the first, to do something.

The big question is, where is initiative found? Firstly, a principled person shows initiative while a programmed person does not.

Principled is when no-one is watching; programmed is when authority is watching. Principled asks the questions: “Is it true, right, kind, helpful…?”; programmed asks the question: “Are there teachers, police, parents around…?”

Principled is based on reason; programmed is based on routine. Principled is knowing why we do it; programmed is knowing who to watch out for.

Principled is doing something because it is right; programmed is doing something because we are told. Principled is deep; programmed is superficial. Principled people will show initiative; programmed people will never.

Secondly, a leader is one who shows initiative. Initiative is about making decisions. It is about being proactive, not reactive. It is not so much a matter of seizing the day but making the day.

It is about looking for the best in all circumstances for all people. Indeed, the type of leader who has initiative is the one who leads herself first, who takes charge of her own life and circumstances.

Thirdly, a servant is one who shows initiative as she sees a need and acts upon it. She does not wait to be told to do something. She does not turn a blind eye to a need or an opportunity. She does not wait for others to do it. A servant is one who says, “I have only done my duty”, who recognises her responsibility and does not look out for ways to get out of hard work.

So, put all that together, with all such qualities, and we will have principled, well-rounded servant leaders, who will not only demonstrate initiative but will encourage and inspire it. Sadly, if we look at our education system, initiative is not taught all that often though it is a value that is respected and admired.

Yet initiative is not something that is taught but is something that is caught. If it is taught, then it is not initiative as the idea, the inspiration, the challenge, the momentum, has come from someone else.

We need to teach pupils how to catch, be it in cricket, in fishing but also in life.

Then others will be out and we will be in. They need to catch that before the end of the game.

If we are not in, we are out. It is essential to be in it, to develop initiative. Howzat?

  • Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS. Email: [email protected]
  • website: www.atschisz

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