Words of wisdom from India’s greatest all-rounder. 

What are you doing these days?

One day on the golf course, the founder of the Khushii Foundation told me that they want to do something for the education of the underprivileged. The coffee table discussion turned into something big, and I’m actively involved with the cause now, apart from my golf and family business.

What does success mean to you?

When you’re young, you have different ambitions and after whatever success you achieve in a particular phase of life, you tend to move on. I’ve had my own moments of joy, but I still feel that success is being able to do what you’re passionate about. The love and admiration that you receive from fans is also a fair measurement of success for me.

Who is the most memorable person you’ve met?

There’s a bunch of them – Nelson Mandela, Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa and APJ Abdul Kalam. These are the sort of people you meet and realise that they’ve done something good for the world. I wish I could have met Mahatma Gandhi.

Have you had role models in your life?

Role models change from time to time. While growing up, my brother used to be my idol. Once I started travelling and seeing the world, I began looking up to people like Nelson Mandela. You see them and you’re like, ‘Wow, what a man!’

What is the biggest decision you’ve made in life?

To become a cricketer.

What would you have done if you hadn’t become a cricketer?

I don’t know, honestly. I’ve never thought about anything else but cricket. As a youngster, cricket used to mean everything. I never expected to be good at something else and make a life out of it. Having said that, it’s different for the current generation. They have the exposure and the awareness to pursue different options.

What is the one thing that you’d like to go back in time and change?

Again, I wouldn’t want to change anything. Thankfully my life has turned out the way it has – so beautifully. The only thing that I can single out is that maybe I should have worked harder than I did back when it mattered.

Do you believe in god?

I haven’t seen god, so I can’t really comment on that. But I think that any thing or person that you believe in can mean as much as god for you, for instance your parents. Your inspirational thoughts and beliefs are another name for god.

How important has money been?

Money is important. The entire world is working for money at the moment. It’s because money enables you to access a lot of beautiful things in the world that we’re living in. There’s nothing wrong in earning money, as long as it is done by legitimate means.

How do you deal with failure?

I’m not sure if my advice works for everyone, but I personally feel that you should keep on trying. You won’t go out and score a hundred each and every day. However, if you keep working hard you will definitely get your century one day. Basically, don’t plan for something that’s not in your hands. The only thing in your hands is to put your head down and keep working hard. Good things will follow.

What has cricket taught you about life?

You don’t play cricket for your own self but for a team. The team is very important, just like a family.

What would your advice be to the young generation?

Just do whatever you feel like and enjoy yourself while doing it. No doubt it’s a smart generation, but sometimes it’s important to skip the elevator for the stairs. It teaches you a lot about life on your way to the top.