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  • Writer's pictureSamT

Teaching Leadership And Life Lessons From The Game Of Cricket

Recently I had the great opportunity to teach a leadership workshop at Lanka Bible College in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, to 55 leaders on life lessons I learned from the game of cricket. The curriculum was developed from my book The First 10 Runs in Singles, coauthored with my brother James as a way to honor our late Father, Major General George Thevanayagam. Our father was instrumental in my development as a thought leader, and has influenced every aspect of my life and thought process. I wrote this book to capture all of the life lessons I learned from my father for life through the game of cricket.

Our father was defined by three things: his faith – he was a Christian; his profession – he was a soldier; and his sport – he was a cricketer. He captained his school First XI team at St. John’s College in Jaffna, played for the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst during his training in the United Kingdom and for the Armed Services team during his career in the Sri Lanka Army.

When his three sons began to play the game he loved, the advice he gave each of us every time we walked out to the middle to bat was: “Remember son, score the first ten runs in singles.” He believed that a batsman needed time in the middle to learn the conditions of the pitch, how the ball was moving and the strengths and weaknesses of the bowler. He repeated this mantra to us, over and over again, until it become ingrained in our psyche and became part of not only my batting strategy, but also part of my strategy for life.

I recognized that these life lessons from cricket could help empower and guide others to play their best game at life. I was excited to take the lessons laid out in “The First 10 Runs in Singles” a step further and teach the content to people around the world. Presented with the opportunity to teach in my home country of Sri Lanka, my brother James and I jumped at the chance.

We used the Socratic Method of teaching for the first time in order to discuss, learn & present the content in a class room setting. The Socratic Method of teaching, named after classical greek philosopher Socrates, encourages both the teacher and the students to challenge their assumptions in a group discussion and think critically about information. It was a very rewarding and inspiring experience for me and James, who helped me translate to Sinhalese and use his command of the language effectively. James’ and I’s combined teaching method was seamless—it was evident that we shared the same womb of a very courageous and high achieving woman. We were able to present the participants a certificate to celebrate their achievement. The skits and rhymes reflected an Island Spirit; they were a great way to reinforce learning!

Seeing the content from my book come to life in a room of students eager to learn more was both inspiring and thought provoking. What an awesome power something as simple and playful as the game of cricket has to bring people from all walks of life together. Here in this room, the lessons my father taught me were given new life— first through the book and the lessons learned, and then through the eyes of these new students. Getting to see the students absorb the information and then take these lessons a step farther, adding to the content with their own stories and metaphors was so humbling. I realized the lessons learned during this seminar would continue on and grow with these students. We planted these seeds of life lessons in the book, and then we helped nurture and grow these seeds within our students to continue to grow in all parts of their lives. How exciting to see what the future has in store for these students as their lives continue to grow and bloom as they begin to think critically about their own lives and lessons to be learned.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience these students interacting with the content from “The First 10 Runs in Singles”. Helping the students work through the information, challenge their assumptions and then apply these strategies to their lives was equally as rewarding and inspirational for the students as it was for the teachers. I look forward to taking what I learned from the students forward with me in my life’s journey, and to sharing more about life and cricket as the 2019 ICC World Cup approaches. God willing in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, West Indies and the UK as Cricket ramps up for the World Cup in 2019.

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