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REACHA Dialogues: In Conversation with India's finest Squash player Saurav Ghosal

Asian Games, Commonwealth Games medalist and Arjuna Award Winner Saurav Ghosal shares what led him to pursue Squash as a career, decision regarding career choice that he made when he was young, how he deals with uncomfortable situations and challenges, mental training, things he does on a daily basis consciously to become a better version of himself, a word of advise to make our lives more meaningful!

Some of the key takeaways coming out of the talk are as follows:

- Some people figure out what they are good at when they are younger, while some are not able to. As long as one is committed to the process and the journey, one with time will be able to figure out what they are truly good at before it is too late as one is committed to it. Making an effort in the right direction therefore is important. It is important to give yourself time and space to figure out what your calling is, and understand yourself and be true to yourself. A good example given by Saurav on a basic level is knowing "how much work is needed to be done to get something done". Having a good relationship and showing your parents that you are balancing between what they want and what you want is important in order to gain their trust. The effort and the commitment breeds confidence both in you and also in people who are supporting you. It is therefore important to understand that trust is a two way street.

- Actions are what create trust, words are the starting point. Therefore it is important to back up your words with the action through the effort and commitment you put in. Things would as a result turn out in a way that would keep you happy. It is important to earn trust in yourself, earn trust from your inner circle and earn trust from the society and that will create confidence in you.

- It is also important to reflect on what the community wants from you in a conscious manner, as having the society by your side is a good thing. This does not mean that every action of yours therefore becomes one to appease the society.

- Saurav sheds light on importance of having a degree, as a safety net and something he also did for himself. It is important as we make head winds in one area that we take a step back, and also look at picture in a larger sense. In Saurav's case despite being a top athlete, he felt it was important for him to get the degree as this is something that he would have to fall back on as a safety net if squash did not work out the way he wanted. As an athlete one massive injury can finish a career, so pursuing the degree was a no brainer for him. Even though this was his decision, but a lot of people can evaluate what fits right for them with the circumstance they have in hand. Although, it is important to look at the larger picture and take a step back during evaluation and before making the decision.

- He also mentioned that throughout his life he tries to control the controllable and try not to worry too much about the uncontrollable. A nice example to this was what people think about you is not in control, but what is in our control is that we can try and work towards becoming better versions of ourselves in a continuous basis. If we are able to do this it can give us happiness internally. This also helps you grow and helps you to not get clouded with negativity from outside. Implementing this can be difficult, but one has to get away with the thoughts and be happy with what is there.

- Performing under high pressure situations: Saurav says he puts himself into situations where he feels privileged to be in that position. He says that he wants to enjoy this privilege as much as he can as he knows it will not last. He has been able to play well the times he has been able to enjoy these privileges. It is important to have clarity of what we want to do. It helps us to have focus on very small details rather than the enormity of the situation. Mental strategy is not an exact science, it is something that we try and execute and through experiences get an understanding of. Once we start thinking about the finer details, our mind goes to a different space where we then might not be worried about what people think of us etc - factors that are not within our control.

- Saurav talks about days when nothing works the way he wants on the squash court and it becomes difficult. Squash is a game where we are responding to what the opponent is throwing at us. Therefore, preparation becomes really important. Saurav in detail talks about many game plans that he already has in his mind before he steps on to the squash court. There are about 3-4 different game plans he has in his mind prepared before starting into a match. He gives an example of this through patterns that he plays on a squash game. He mentions that as he plays a pattern on the court, he closely observes how the opponent reacts to that pattern, and if it does not work well in his favor then he quickly adjusts to a new pattern. Other than on court court conditions, there are also many off court conditions that a player needs to consider. There are many complications that are there, but how one deals with it is what separates the best from the also ran. He also mentions how one can also be continuously switching between the different game plans they have in their mind during the match based on the reactions they are getting from the opponent. Therefore, squash is also referred as chess at 100 miles an hour as you are thinking three four moves ahead. He mentions that whatever strategy one has, execution is what actually seals the deal, and hence proof is in the pudding and recognizing what to execute and when becomes important.

- It is important to reflect and recognize that who and what we are today has been made from where we come from. The experiences have molded us into the person who we are. It is important to be proud of where we come from, but also equally important to not let that pride become a discriminatory factor with people who do not align with the thoughts we might be having.

- Saurav mentions that subconsciously he tries to be the best version of himself everyday. There can be days when one can make more mistakes than other days, but one can try to reflect on them and try to improve upon them the next day. It is important to see how your actions are impacting other people. If the actions are causing harm to others then it is important to take a hard look and change yourself. Always look at creating or achieving more than what anyone else might expect of you. This would help in staying humble and grounded. It is important to keep pushing your own boundaries (without worrying about anyone else), and don't be scared to push them. At the end of the day, you have to work as hard as you can for the potential that you have. generally hard work will lead you to something special. The work that you put in is like a deposit in the bank. It is just a question when that deposit matures for you, but at some point it will and for that you will need to have trust at the work (in the process) that you put in, which is not for anyone else but for yourself. If you think about this then it will help you deal with setbacks in a better way, as life is all about setbacks!


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