This year has been a very tough year for most people in business. Confidence has been variable at best and businesses have struggled to generate growth and momentum. Redundancies have been aplenty and people are closely monitoring their expenses. There are very few people flourishing in this environment. It is a climate for tough, resilient people to survive and those people are rare and invaluable. This week, Australian cricket farewells one of those people.

Ricky Ponting will go down as one of the toughest cricketers that Australia has ever produced. He was born in Launceston and was a child prodigy excelling in cricket, golf and aussie rules. Sport came easy to Ricky and it was evident that his life would be based on it for a young age. However his path to cricketing legend was not a smooth one at all.

Ponting had the misfortune of being given out leg before wicket on 96 in his test debut when it was obvious that the ball was going to miss a second set of stumps. He was dropped from the test side and then hit rock bottom when he was in a fight at the Bourbon and Beefsteak Hotel in Kings Cross and he found himself on the front page of the paper, black eye and all. Ponting had a reputation as a gambler (his nickname is Punter) and he loved nothing more than watching his beloved greyhounds. He seemed to be a long way from becoming a revered cricketer, captain and national treasure.

However Ponting was a lot more than a talented, lovable rogue. He was a determined and competitive young man who had an incredible self-belief and ability to focus on both short and long term goals. He scored runs and scored them at a pace that meant that his side was in a position to win test matches. He was not satisfied with scoring half centuries; when he was settled at the crease he truly capitalised and made big scores. He became a true student of the game and developed his technical nous and guile. He rehabilitated his media image and communicated in a clear, professional and succinct manner. He worked tirelessly for charity and ended up setting up his own foundation which raised money for cancer research and patient care. He will end up being universally recognised as Australia’s greatest batsman since Bradman.

So, what are the lessons for us mere mortals to learn from Ricky Ponting? Well, for me, the greatest lesson is that resilience and mental strength can take you a very long way. In Ricky Ponting’s case, it took him to the top of Australian cricket. It would have been quite easy for Ponting to go right off the rails and become a “victim”, blaming all and sundry for his bad media press. He could have quit all together and gone back to Launceston as a big fish in a small pond. However Ponting was made of stronger fabric than this. Rather than give up, Ponting remodelled his behaviours and realised that he was not putting himself in a true position to be successful. His preparation became very thorough and methodical and he went from being a selfish young man to the ultimate team man. He is a leader in the truest sense of the word; people followed him and were prepared to stand by him no matter the circumstance. He led from the front and set an example for all those around him.

Ponting has never been my favourite cricketer (his mentor David Boon is) however I have more than a slight amount of admiration for him. He reformed his behaviours and this led to him becoming a champion. He played tough, hard and fair. He never asked for a quarter and never gave one. As they say, he would be the first person picked to be next to you in the trenches. As an employer working through tougher economic times, these are the behaviours and characteristics that are invaluable right now. Congratulations to Ricky Ponting on a brilliant career; please feel free to contact Optimum if you are looking to commence a second one!

Brad McMahon – Managing Director

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