Everybody Matters: Responding to Tragedy

Abhishek Paul
3 min readApr 3, 2019

Bob Chapman’s story touches upon the sudden death of his father at the age of 60 (Bob was 30). The banks compounded his loss by demanding that the ailing company pay back its loans immediately — they didn’t think the company could survive the loss of their CEO. But he managed to turn around the company and deliver one of the most profitable years in the history of the company that same year — growing the revenue by 20% and paying off their debts. He talks about possessing a single minded focus and drive that carried him through this time of extreme personal and professional stress.

A similar incident that came to my mind is Tendulkar’s response to the loss of his father. India was in the midst of the World Cup ’99 in England and he flew back to India to attend the funeral. But he was back in 3 days to play the crucial match against Kenya (India had lost the previous match to Zimbabwe and their progress into the knock stages was in danger), saying that that was what his family said his father would have wanted. He went on to score a match winning century. The images of Sachin in his sunglasses through the pre match build up are etched in my memory — he wanted to hide his tear stained eyes and at least keep some of his grief private. He went out under the full glare of a live and TV audience and won the match for his country.

Michael Jordan is probably one of the most famous athletes in the world. A little less known fact is that his father was tragically shot dead in a highway robbery when Jordan was just 30. While it’s not something he speaks about, there is a later documentary where he opens up a little more. He speaks about how when he’s playing, he looks into the crowd till he spots a father and son — and he says that he plays the game for them.

The other interesting commonality I noted was that all the 3 had a great relationship with their fathers prior to their untimely passing. While Jordan and Tendulkar had this relationship from a young age, Bob by his own admission wasn’t close to his father growing up, but managed to reconcile and work together for the last 6 years of his life. This saved them having to deal with the added pain of regret.

In Bob Chapman’s own words — “What could have broken me made me. This has been a recurring theme in my life. So many times I could have admitted defeat, folded my tent, surrendered to fate. But I never did.” (Everybody Matters, pg 21)

Source: Everybody Matters, Chp 1, Pg 27

PS: My brother reminded me of Schumacher’s response to his mother’s death. Sharing his note here — “Another example is Schumacher in Imola — got pole position in the afternoon — took a flight to Germany that evening to see his mother who was dying and ended up dying that night — took a flight back to Imola early Sunday — won the race on Sunday noon!!!”