A tough loss and a lesson
If you’re a tennis fan and you watched the Wimbledon men’s final last Sunday, you probably already know that it is going to go down in history as one of the greatest matches ever played. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal squared off in a contest that was nothing short of best vs best. Federer was going for a record sixth straight Wimbledon title and Nadal was looking to complete his installation into the ranks of the tennis elite.
After losing two straight sets to Nadal, they were at 5-4 in the third set when the first of the rains set in. After an hour and twenty minutes they resumed.
What happened from that point has left most commentators speechless and fans needing a sedative.
Federer battled back and won the third and fourth sets both by tie-breakers but lost the final set 9-7. After the match, Nadal cried and Federer, who normally is very gracious in victory or defeat, was at a complete loss for words.
Did I just convert this blog to a tennis blog without telling you? No. Rather, I want to make sure that you walk away with some very important life and business lessons from this contest.
- Have a plan for the match but play each point.
- Always test a method even if it’s worked for you before.
- If it’s not working, try something else.
- Take risks.
- Don’t let one mistake ruin the match for you.
- Remember that you are human.
I would like to discuss each one of these and how they apply to your life and business.
Have a plan for the match but play each point
You can bet before Roger Federer took the court for this historic match that he reviewed his French Open loss to Nadal and formulated a plan of attack. It took into consideration which things appeared to work and which did not. However, every time he served or returned a ball he was only focused on doing that one thing. He wouldn’t toss the ball and be thinking about his serving strategy for a fourth set tie-breaker. Experts say this ability to play each point is one of the things that separates a club player from number one in the world.
This ability doesn’t come easily or naturally to us. We want the result and consider the steps to achieve it a necessary evil. In this way, we plow through seemingly meaningless tasks hoping the result will magically be there when those steps are complete. When it’s not, we get frustrated at the whole process.
Participate in every step of your plan and only be thinking of how you can improve each step while we are doing it. We’ll have plenty of time to look over the whole plan later and see what worked and what didn’t.
This is what Zen philosophy refers to as “being in the moment.”
Always test a method even if it’s worked for you before
Part of the early stages of any professional tennis match is the “feeling out” process. Early in the match players are testing which of their weapons are working that day and how their opponents are handling it. For instance, Roger was having difficulty early hitting backhand winners up the line.
Likewise, just because you’ve successfully used a landing page format in the past, that doesn’t mean you should use it on everything you do from that point forward. You need to test it against other formats and make sure it is working for the current campaign.
We all know what happens when we assume something’s going to work?
If it’s not working, try something else
Another trait top players possess is being highly adaptive. If their signature shot is floating over the baseline consistently they do not keep trying to hit it until it does. Instead, they select another shot they have been successful with and see if it will fill the void. In other words, they don’t try to force one tool to work for them when it’s clearly not.
Have you found yourself doing the square peg in the round hole routine lately? Just because you want something to work doesn’t mean it will. Recognizing this fact is half of the battle.
Every time you hear a tennis announcer saying “Man, where did THAT come from?”, a risk was taken and the result was positive. In order to keep their opponents off-balance, players like to periodically attempt low percentage shots or tactics because they’re not expected. It’s a win-win situation for them because it isn’t expected to succeed even if it does. But the confidence boost they get from knowing they CAN take risks helps all other aspects of their game.
Humans are naturally risk-averse. It’s in our nature to be logical and calculating when we approach new situations. For some people, the thrill of doing something new outweighs their need to analyze the risks involved.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read that a successful entrepreneur has got to be a risk-taker. Like any other trait, it has to be developed and nurtured in order to thrive.
What problem has you stumped right now and could taking a risk solve it?
Don’t let one mistake ruin the match for you
Watching these two players was a study in self-control. No matter what happened in the previous point, there was no trace of it afterwards. Missed shots, double faults or unforced errors alike. You could see it in thier eyes. They were not churning what they did wrong over in their minds. They were playing the next point-period.
This is an area I need the most improvement on. Too often, I create an avalanche from a snowflake because I jump from what happened to how many other things it can affect. I try each and every day to cut off negative thought patterns before they start and to realize that one mistake will NOT cause the entire project to fail. I’ll get there but it’s going to take time and patience.
I would really like to hear how you cope with this. Please leave a comment and tell me your story.
Remember that you are human
One of the first people to speak with Roger after his loss was John McEnroe. Tennis fans remember John and his antics on court. But even McEnroe had trouble interviewing Federer because he could remember matches where he gave his all and still came up short. Federer trailed off in response to one of his questions and McEnroe just hugged him and let him go.
Later, Federer was criticized for giving short, smartass answers to media questions. This is NOT the way Roger Federer should act they seemed to be implying. Well, I’ve got news for them. Roger’s a human being just like you and he’s got buttons just like the rest of you do. The fact that he is known for being calm and in control does not mean he’s not ALLOWED to get emotional after such a tough match and narrow defeat.
We’re human beings too. We’re going to miss deadlines, fail to plan, fail to act and have entire days where nothing seems to go right. This is a fact we must accept to be able to succeed in life and business. The sooner we accept it the better.
Don’t beat yourself up because you acted like a human would.
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[tags]roger federer,rafael nadal,wimbledon mens final,planning,being in the moment,risk taking,being human,anger management,sports psychology[/tags]