The 2022 Australian Open finals over the weekend delivered some incredibly riveting tennis. The nation celebrated Ash Barty’s focussed and dignified victory over Danielle Collins in the women’s finals, which ended a 44-year wait for an Australian to win an Australian Open singles title. Audiences were also captivated when Rafael Nadal orchestrated a comeback in an exhaustive five hours and twenty-four minutes win over Daniil Medvedev in the men’s finals.
Great sporting achievements have the power to inspire us. We marvel at the hard work, determination and perseverance of elite athletes. There are valuable lessons we can take from the achievements of these tennis champions and implement in our own careers.
1. You have to continually show up
This may sound obvious but it’s deceptively difficult to consistently pull off. The world is a very distracting place, now more so than ever, so having the capacity to commit to your objectives and tasks whole-heartedly, show up and give it your all is actually quite rare. We may intend to do our best but following through is key to success. When Nadal lost the first two sets there were plenty of nervous supporters who were losing hope that he could win. However, Nadal continued to show up. He continued to be present and focussed in spite of the challenge he faced.
2. Success is not a straight line
When we’re watching the crowning achievements of others, it can be easy to forget their trials and missteps. Behind every success there are major challenges and adversity. The most successful people are just adept at learning from these moments and moving forward.
Rafael Nadal’s historic 21st Grand Slam win is perhaps even more significant when you consider various injuries have plagued his career. It’s also amazing to note that Ash Barty quit tennis in 2014 for a couple of years after suffering from depression. This decision to focus on her wellbeing ultimately strengthened her game. Do what you can to accept and learn from any adversity you’ve faced and don’t be afraid to step back from your goals to recalibrate and focus on your health.
3. Attitude counts
Let’s talk about (men’s singles runner-up) Medvedev for a minute. No one could blame him for feeling frustrated when Nadal started staging a comeback. He also had to contend with a crowd that was overwhelmingly in support of Nadal. However, his evident frustration and irritated attitude did not benefit him. Getting annoyed about what the ball kids were doing was an unnecessary distraction in a pivotal moment of his game. As the saying goes, don’t sweat the small stuff. Of course, it’s unrealistic that you will always be completely focussed, but a calm and respectful attitude goes a long way. Reflect on the attitude you have towards your career and those you work with… is there room for improvement?
4. Don’t give up!
With sweat pouring off him and the early advantage sitting with an opponent ten years his junior, Rafael Nadal gave a master class in not giving up. His tenacity and grit were a marvel to watch. He never gave up on his goal. In your career, you should always be ready to take opportunities where they lie and learn from your mistakes.
As Thomas Edison said, “our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
5. Remember your end goal
Do you have a clear picture of what you would like to achieve in your career? Have you worked out a plan to help you get there? Career planning is important. Champions like Ash Barty and Rafael Nadal know exactly what they want to achieve and set out to achieve it.
As the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland says, “if you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.” Things won’t always go your way but keeping in mind the big picture of what you’re striving for will help you to stick to the path you intended and you’ll also be more resilient to the bumps in the road.