Here is the full transcript of legendary Pakistani player Imran Khan’s TEDx Talk titled ‘Never Give Up on Your Dreams’ at TEDxKarachi 2011 Event.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Imran Khan on Never Give up on Your Dreams at TEDxKarachi 2011
Imran Khan – Pakistani politician and former cricketer
Let me start by saying that my first challenge was cricket. I was nine years old when I decided to become a test cricketer. I watched my older cousin Javed Burki scoring a century at what should not be called Gaddafi Stadium now — and I remember I made up my mind that I would be a test cricketer. Never after that, did I ever think that there was any possibility that I would not become a test cricketer, it was only a question of when.
So along the way, there were a lot of problems which I hadn’t foreseen at the time when I decided to become a test cricketer. But the thing about achieving the impossible is – it’s a question of handling the bad times. Because whenever you have a big goal or you take the untrodden path, be prepared that you’re going to have some bad times. You will face setbacks, there will be failures but the people who actually win in the end, have this quality — number one — they never give up. You only lose when you give up.
And secondly, they have the ability to cope with the bad times. Now my first bad time came when I played my first test match, I was dropped and when I came back the headline was “Imran Khan’t”. And I didn’t play for the next three years, I was out of the team and everyone thought that that was it.
But then I made my way back in the team but the first shock I received, which I am telling you — the bigger the goal, the more shocks you are going to have, the more setbacks, the more failures you should expect. So I played my first test at Lahore and I am walking out to bat and the right side, through the pavilion, there’s a whole — from right and through the hall, the whole Lahore was sitting there. All along the way as I walked to the middle and remember it’s 70 yards to the middle, all 70 yards it was cheering Lahore and “long live” the Lahore cheered, and so on. And wonderful noise all the way I walked to the wicket.
But unfortunately in cricket you have something which no other sport has — you can be out the first ball. And that’s what happened. So now 70 yards back — the same crowd — there are ladies sitting here so I will not tell you what they actually said to me. But I am telling in Lahore Punjabi, what I went through the 70 yards back, it might have been 70 miles I was walking. Anyway, I came back and I was in a shock. I said, “How can the same people who were just calling me lion, how could have they turned around and be saying all those things they’ve said to me?” And there was quite a while to get over it.
But then over the years, I got used to it. The other big time I can was the sort of defeat that was very difficult, it was the first time we toured India and we lost. Now imagine that we’ve lost the series and we are flying off to Pakistan the next day. There is a team meeting going on. What is a team meeting? How can we arrive in Lahore when everyone is asleep? So we came on a flight that arrived at 4 am in the morning. The custom people kept us there for three hours, until there was light and everything was confiscated, I still remember it. Everything we had — this is India, in those days the custom laws were much more strict. So everything was taken away from us by the custom official and for days we couldn’t go out of our houses. The players had to hide in their houses, really, because the sort of anger the public felt.
And the other setback I can tell you when I contested my first election. Our party was only five months old. I kept telling — I was roaming around, everyone was due, there’s doctor Alvi sitting there, they were all founding members of Tehreef-e-Insaf. So we had just formed this party, all well-meaning people wanting to do good in Pakistan, but with no experience in politics. So I went around campaigning everywhere and I saw a lot of people turned up.
But, during the campaign, I realized clearly a five-month old party cannot contest elections. So our idea was that we would just go all over Pakistan, take the agenda of corruption to the people — that corruption is the number one issue in Pakistan, and then just before the election we’ll withdraw. So of course I was all prepared and quite enjoying my tour thinking that we are not going to contest election and loving all this sort of first time, going all over Pakistan.
As I came back, about ten days before the election, we had a meeting, and we sat down and I said, “Look, now it’s perfect, the party is all over Pakistan, we’ve got candidates all over the country, best time now to say that we boycott because at the time the match was fixed. So we thought, “We are not going to win anyway. Best time to leave!”
Of course, my team overruled me. They said, “No! We are going to win the election!”, because they had no idea what elections were. I warned them, I said, “Look, you know this could be a big disaster.” And they had no idea what elections were — all new people. So of course, the polling night, Tehreek-e-Insaf has a clean sweep, the other way around — not one seat. Anyway, by this time, I am conditioned, I am conditioned to seeing ups and downs. So I had exactly developed the mechanism how to cope with failure. First thing you do is, don’t read the newspapers. What is the point of reading the newspapers when you know whatever is going be written is not going to be complimentary.