Someone posted a question on Quora asking about some good qualities of MS Dhoni. Some amazing answers were posted, offering insights into the genius' brain and temperament. I shared my 50 paise too.
Before reading my answer, please remember that everything I write is as an interested observer, and certainly not based on fundamental research. I'm as much in the dark as others about MS Dhoni, but love exercising my brain on what drives him, and learning from him.
Below is my answer to the question: What are some good qualities of MS Dhoni?
We look at MS Dhoni as a remarkable leader and batsman. But we must remember that his success stems from his perspective on life, which, as he says, the game is just a part of. In this answer, I’ll go a little deeper than his skills on the field, but will use examples of his cricketing life to justify my points.
|Yeah buddy... keep smiling :)|
I remember watching highlights of the 2011 World Cup India-Pakistan semifinal with a friend. The match ended (we won), and Sachin jovially hugged Mahi. The latter merely smiled and hugged him with one arm since he was carrying a stump in the other. “Dekh kitna attitude hai usme (look how haughty he is)!”, my friend said about MSD. But it wasn’t attitude that Dhoni showed. It was detachment - from results, from emotions, the past and the future.
There is simply an eternal state of calm inside him, looking at things as the plain truth rather than adding personal judgement to them. Detachment is also what enabled him to announce his test retirement after the 90th test match in the way he did, rather than doing so after 100 tests and announcing it before a test so that he would get a standing ovation, a guard of honor etc.
- Seeing the good in people
We know the story, right? Dhoni joined the Indian cricket team and was often picked on by Yuvraj Singh because he was from a lesser known town. Yuvraj picked on Dhoni when the latter scored 148 in ODIs, saying that the true mark of a player lay in how he played test matches and so on. One day, Dhoni simply asked him why he was always so angry. Yuvraj smiled and that broke the ice between them. Yuvraj went on to play many a match-winning roles for India under Dhoni, especially in the 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 ICC World Cup. How would we respond to someone who is, say, a senior in our office space and keeps picking on us? Dhoni could probably see the good in Yuvraj, and hence coolly bypassed his bullying behavior and connected with him like few others could.
- Having faith in people
Dhoni’s ability to back the right players doesn’t stem from a lesson of some business management course. His ability to see the good in people helps him give them assurance, which brings often out the best in them. Remember when Gautam Gambhir had lauded Dhoni when the former found a permanent spot in the Indian team? “Dhoni gave me the assurance that I would not have to worry about a spot in the team”, he said. “That gave me the freedom to play the way I liked.” And we know how many flourishing innings Gambhir has played for India. The more people are assured, the better they perform, as ex-Apple designer Mark Kawano highlights.
We question why Dhoni backed Jadeja for so long. But Dhoni can look beyond Jadeja’s batting ability, sees him as one of India’s best fielders and a useful spinner. There are more roles a player can don than one. And his faith in people pays off more often than not, because people want to prove themselves when someone places faith in them.
- Seeing himself as part of a Whole
In every answer, people who have met MSD talk about his humility. It’s also visible from the way he speaks and where he stands when the team poses with a trophy. Yes, in some remote part of Dhoni’s brain, he knows it’s important to let players and the support staff share the limelight, but not because he is a leader. It’s because he sees himself as part of a team, a Whole. That is also why he often bats lower down the order. Because averages be damned, that’s what the team needs, regardless of what the media or we think.
"If 15 runs are needed off the last 6 balls, pressure is on the bowler and not on MS Dhoni”, said Ian Bishop. This is not because Dhoni is a hard hitter (well, partly it is). But it's because Dhoni has carefully analyzed the situation to let 15 runs remain in the last over. “My aim is to leave it till the bowler and me are on level ground, i.e. to the point at which he is under as much pressure as me. Then we see who can handle it”, he says.
Another example: “Everyone makes mistakes. It’s just that the distance between the mistakes is more in the case of successful people.” His perspectives on life let him look at it (life) objectively, and that is probably what enables him to imbibe all the qualities that we often talk about.
I could write about Dhoni’s qualities day and night. But for now, I’ll leave you with the 700+ words above and this poem written by Rudyard Kipling:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
IF - Rudyard Kipling