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Sport is an integral part of Australian culture. We love to be entertained by the struggles and triumphs of our sporting heroes. But the appeal of sport extends beyond pure entertainment. There are valuable lessons to be found in the journey of sportspeople to achieve. 

We can apply these wisdoms to our own life to help us succeed. Let’s take a look at two high-achieving Australian sportspeople that provide some fundamental lessons about success.

1. Daniel Ricciardo on Optimism

LinkedIn News Senior Editor Cayla Dengate spoke recently with Australia’s celebrated Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo in this engaging interview. Ricciardo is well known for his determination and upbeat attitude (Optus even appointed Ricciardo their Chief of Optimism). In the interview Ricciardo speaks about the benefits of a positive attitude when facing life’s ups and downs. He says “to have an optimistic outlook and to basically encourage yourself to rally through a situation, it can go a long way.” 

His approach extends to times when he is experiencing pressure to achieve. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by it, he ensures that he’s energised, stating “pressure’s an opportunity for me to show off.” 

Fostering a positive mindset can help us to reframe situations that may traditionally be considered stressful or overwhelming. Pressure doesn’t have to be a negative, it can be thought of as an opportunity to meet expectations and achieve to our highest potential. 

Additionally, it makes us more resilient to those times where we feel that we’ve failed. After a setback, people who are optimistic are better equipped to dust themselves off, learn from it and strive for the next thing.

2. Ash Barty on Fulfillment

Patrick Durkin’s wrote a fascinating article in the AFR recently about how tennis star Ash Barty is redefining success (link here). Barty has a mindset/life coach Ben Crowe who spoke with AFR after Barty’s surprise decision to retire from tennis at just 25. In a sport as individual as tennis, Barty was unusual in her humble attitude and emphasis on the achievements of her team. Also unusual was her decision to quit while at the top of her game.

Crowe speaks to how important fulfillment in what you do is. He says “most people define success by achievement and therefore become very extrinsically motivated which can distract you from what is really important in life,” he says. In contrast, Barty has full clarity on who she is and what fulfills her. “She’s done the work, she’s done the self-reflection to answer the question ‘who am I?’ before she answers the question ‘what do I want?’. Most people don’t do that, they don’t answer ‘who am I?’, so they go after ‘what I want?’. But they will find it is never enough and never find their self-worth. Once you find that foundation, then you can go after what you want. That’s the lesson that Ash has taught the world.”

We are all influenced by definitions of success presented to us by society. No man is an island, as the expression goes, however a truly fulfilling life requires reflection on who we are as individuals and what a successful life looks like for us.