What do cricket and positive risk taking have in common? Not much if you're a leader in the Australian cricket team at the moment.
You would think the leaders of the Australian cricket team would be good decision makers, especially when it comes to areas of risk taking. Their degree of experience at the highest level should give them a sound basis to make rational decisions in a timely manner under extreme pressure. How then, can we explain the poor lack of judgement made by Steve Smith, David Warner and to a lesser degree Cameron Bancroft? Could it be that we have created environments where even our countries most competitive and talented sportsmen have lost the ability to comprehend the consequences of their actions. I am interested to know exactly how the conversation went at the lunch break at Newlands last week. At any stage did Smith, Warner or even Bancroft stop the conversation to say, this is too much of a risk; we won't get away with ball tampering? Have the protections we have put in place taken away our ability to comprehend the consequences of our actions until after the fact.
What do we need to do to ensure our competitive spirit, situational pressures, and emotional state don't blind us from the obvious at critical times?
Firstly, we need to ensure our knowledge is faultless. If we are to be the best we can be we need to make sure our education is the best it can be including knowing the rules, knowing our opposition, knowing the environment we are competing in, knowing our game plan which includes our strengths and weaknesses, and also knowing how we can rely on our strengths and limit the impact of our weaknesses.
Secondly, we need to train ourselves to recognise those moments when we need to regain our focus and clear our mind of negative distractions. It is easy to get caught up in the emotion of a situation or get carried along by the influence of others. By using a trigger to bring ourselves back to the moment and our next involvement in the process we can take away the power that an emotive response or comments from others can have on our decision making. Power that can lead us to take irresponsible risks.
Thirdly, we need to harness the confidence we have in our own ability to make a calculated risk as opposed to an irrational risk.
Fourthly, we need to have a growth mindset to allow ourselves to see failure as a learning opportunity as opposed to something we fear. Lets hope Smith, Warner, and Bancroft see the opportunity this error has provided them to develop their ethical integrity and prove their work ethic in earning back the respect of the cricketing world. To not take responsibility for their actions and to hide behind excuses will only lead to the stain on their career lasting well beyond their retirement.
This weeks Performance Pick are four strategies for positive risk taking:
1 Knowledge is key
2 Refocus your thinking
3 Harness your confidence
4 Failure is a learning experience