For those of you who have attended one of our programs, you know my passion for great examples of a high performance mindset. I can’t seem to watch a TV documentary or a sporting event, or read a book without being drawn to those who overcome unbelievable odds to achieve high performance. This past week, at the US Open in Flushing Meadows New York, Rafael Nadal provided one of the best examples of everything we teach that I have ever seen.
It was 11 months since his last title and only 9 months ago many pundits were writing off Rafa’s career. “He’s too tough on this body”, “he isn’t sustainable”, “he doesn’t have the skills to win on hard courts”. He was suffering from a hurt knee, then he had a pulled abdominal muscle, and off the court he was struggling with the break up of his parents. But what too many people didn’t understand was Rafa’s heart and determination and his ability to use this dip as the ultimate motivator. So often we work with clients who experience a huge dip in their own life. It may be the loss of a job, a divorce, an illness, the loss of a loved one, a burnout or one of many other reasons. But the strategies we teach at Tignum, and the advice we give to our clients, was exactly how Rafa climbed out of his dip to win the 2010 US Open and become one of the greatest players in history.
First, he never listened to what “they” said. Instead he focused on what “he” knew inside his own heart. He knew that the only way to climb out of any hole is one step at a time. He only focused on the next step. He took care of today and then worked on tomorrow when it was here. As he said after his semi-final win over Mikhail Youzhny, “I go to practice every day not to practice. I go to practice every day to learn something and to keep improving my level.” How good could you be if you approached every meeting this way, every presentation this way, every day this way? When constantly badgered by the press about his place in tennis history, he always answered with humility and simply said, “why would I worry about that, all I can do is play every ball as well as I can and the rest is out of my control.” How often do you focus on the things that you can’t control? How often do you get caught up in your own importance rather then giving your all to a project and letting everything else take care of itself?
As we say to every single client we work with, “there is no reason that you can’t be better tomorrow than you are today.” There is no reason that you can’t have more energy, more resilience, more focus, better skills in 9 months. Like Nadal, the key is that you need to work hard on just getting a little bit better everyday. You need to focus on the things that are in your control (like your Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery strategies). You need to realize that just like tennis, there is no such thing as a perfect match. You are a work in progress. But most important, you have to realize that set backs are just dips in the road and the voices of the “they” can never drown out your own voices, especially if you make them powerful and productive.
By Scott Peltin
Founder & Chief Performance Officer