Merchant's Musings # 4 ...


If you fail to plan... you plan to fail.

  • A goal without a plan is just a wish.  -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

  • I hope that I may always desire more than I can accomplish -- Michelangelo.

  • A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for -- John A. Shedd.

So many of us dawdle through life waiting for the next big thing to happen to us … waiting and watching, as if we are God’s chosen ones and have been appointed for something special.  Some of us do have some extraordinary skills, while some do not, but we all are expecting the big phenomenon.  And then amidst all this waiting and watching life whizzes past us, and we are still left wondering as to when that special thing is going to hit us.


Being reasonably familiar with the scenario in Cue-sports, I would confine my thoughts to our sport and scrutinize the inadequacies that plague so many of our cueists. Barring a handful, not many of us are clear about our status in the game, both presently and in the future. In fact, so many of us are even contemplating quitting it altogether and pursuing other career options to ensure a comfortable future.  For the sake of discussion, I would like to eliminate all such unsure people and focus purely on those that have committed themselves for a life in Cue-sport.


Addressing those committed sportspersons, I would once again pose this question to them and ask them to look deep within their souls and figure out if they do know about their chosen career path. Do they just intend to keep playing the sport from tournament to tournament without any special effort to make the next tournament better than their previous one? Does the word advancement ever figure in their life’s dictionary? Does a plan actually fit into their scheme of things, which is going to transport them into the realms of greatness, or are they just loitering around expecting greatness to fall from the skies and right into their laps?


It actually pains me to confess that this is what I see happening within our sport. There are so many of us who are sitting on the threshold of immeasurable success, but are unwilling to give it that one final push that will take us over. Apparently we seem to be content with the given state assuming that this is all that we could have achieved and we have achieved it. Nothing could be further from the truth than this dismaying thought.  For all those who have reached their achievement levels (read stagnation point), you need to change your plan.  If good things are not happening to you, then you are probably not making them happen. Plan to move ahead and chart out a path accordingly. Winning an occasional tournament is not what you want to aim for; you are targeting dominance over the sport and over the competition.


Speaking of dominating the sport, even the top guns of our country need to revisit their plans and plug all the holes within their armoury, in order to regain control over their peers. I address all the young stars of today who have made their mark but are finding it extremely difficult to hang on to their success. Remember ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there. Build on your flaws, work on your weakness and conquer all inner demons. This will build an indestructible character.


How many of us are bending our backs and troubling our minds to transcend us into a different level? What have we done to work on our skills and get them at par with international standards? Why do we swallow the bitter pill of contentment without making an effort to cure the ills of complacency that have gripped us like an epidemic? It’s about time that we bring out our thinking hats from the closet, and then put those thoughts into action.


Before I conclude, as has now become customary, I must relate an interesting episode, which I read about in ‘snooker scene’ magazine many years ago, to tie in with my thoughts.  It was the time when Stephen Hendry was barely sixteen and Steve Davis ruled the roost. Hendry’s manager, Ian Doyle organized a series of exhibition matches between Davis and Hendry – six to be exact. These were best of 11 matches to be played over six different venues in U.K.


As expected Davis won each of those, with scores like 6-2, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 and 6-3 (not exact scores but somewhat close). When Hendry was asked about this whitewash and his experience in general, he replied, ‘Now I know how to beat Steve Davis’. An invaluable gem from the man who would dominate the sport for more than a decade. Ian Doyle’s plan had worked. He had taken the fear of losing out of Hendry’s mind and subsequently Stephen Hendry went on to beat Steve Davis many times over after that, and eventually broke all of his records.


This is what planning and strategy is all about in championship sport.


To quote another of my favourite legends, as I switch off my brain for the moment …


Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.  -- Muhammad Ali.




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Yasin Merchant

India's ace snooker player




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Last modified: Monday August 24, 2009 22:23:21 +0530