As a lover of sports, I’m constantly encouraged and inspired by the focus, discipline and dedication of the top athletes. I believe there’s so much we can learn from them.
A recent example is Ana Ivanovic beating world number 1, Serena Williams for the first time ever. If you know anything about women’s tennis, it’s generally agreed that as long as Serena Williams turns up to a match and is anywhere remotely near 60-100% fit, she will win. Whereas other athletes playing against her have no chance if they are not 100% fit. She is that good and that much better than any other player currently in the women’s game.
However, in the fourth round of the 2014 Australian Open, Ana won. Even after losing the first set she still came back to win. Now what she said afterwards, Is what interests me and what I think can help us in our creative endeavours.
“I just think I stayed in the moment physically. I didn’t think much about the occasion and who I was playing, because it can get overwhelming. I just stuck with my things and it really paid off.”
There’s three things I took away from reading that quote.
1) Stay in the moment
It’s all to easy to live life thinking about past failures –or even past glories. Or looking too much ahead to the future. Neither matters in the sense that you can’t change the past and you can’t make the future happen. We could get run over by a bus tomorrow or have a heart attack. It’s something we are simply not in control of. That does not mean of course that decisions we make now won’t affect our future, but its back to ‘now’. We do have control of the now. The present. This moment. Not the past. Nor the future.
2) Comparisons aren’t helpful
There are many people in the web industry (–my main area of income generating work) who are far younger than me, and if i’m honest –as much as it pains me to say it, far more talented than me. And, if I compare myself to others who have been around as long as I have, many of whom are now considered industry leaders, I could easily (and I have in the past) wallow in thoughts like ‘how come I’m not as successful as him or her?’.
DON’T! Just don’t. Its extremely unhelpful, and you would be missing the point that –and I know its a cliché, ‘you are unique’. There is no-one else quite like you. You are the only one that can change things if you’re not happy.
If Ana looked over the other side of the net only thinking about Serena Williams as “the greatest female player that’s ever played this game” according to John McEnroe and Chris Evert, its easy to understand how she could feel overwhelmed. But she didn’t.
3) Have a plan that you believe in
If you have a plan that you believe in, stick with it. It’s about playing to your strengths. That doesn’t mean your plan shouldn’t be flexible and open to change if its not working. The mark of insanity is often suggested to be doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. No, you can change the plan, but you need a plan to start with otherwise you are like a scatter gun, shooting in multiple directions hoping something will stick.
So the advice I take from Ana Ivanovic is, stay in the moment, don’t lose focus by looking at other people, have a plan and execute it well. And finally of course, well done Ana!
Over to you
What encouragement do you gain from professional athletes? Is there anything else you took out of Ana’s victory?