Being an avid sports fan for many years, I have recently become even more intrigued with the “inner game” that allows successful sports icons and teams continue their winning ways. There is much to be learned through the amazing parallels between the sports and business world.
I have been a “fan”(before Facebook!) of Roger Federer since I first saw him in his big break-through year at Wimbledon in 2003. He has had an historic career and I am always fascinated by how he manages both the external and internal game of tennis.
A recent Wall Street Journal article, Federer’s Best Shot, discussed some of his “secrets” to success. As I read this article, one overall theme stood out: Roger’s ability to know himself. His personal trainer describes Roger as a rare combination of creative and disciplined. “Roger is a champ because he’s the boss of his talent.” This is a core strategy for anyone in sports or in business. You absolutely must know how to focus on your strengths and manage your struggles. It will require you to surround yourself with a good team, both on the personal and business side of life.
So, how does Roger manage to rarely get hurt, tired or grumpy? And, what can we learn from his game of tennis?
Think long-term, don’t overplay
RF: “I tried to look at the long-term. I didn’t want to chase everything possible in the short term.” He made a conscious decision early on in his career to plan his attack on “time”: to not just be great but to do it longer than anyone else has done it.
Business Translation: Your DNA Behavior will show you if you tend to make everything a priority or if you are more patient in your approach. Valuable information to know! How many of us try to accomplish everything at once? Or, get as many clients as possible? You don’t need it all right now. Just do what is next to be done in your overall strategy.
No sports superstitions
RF: “I don’t care if I practice at 9 in the morning or 10 p.m.” Roger has always been flexible. He knows what he has to accomplish and can fit it in his schedule as needed.
Business Translation: So, maybe you don’t have any superstitions, but what about the “old tapes” that may be playing in your head about what it takes to be successful? Checking on your DNA Behavior will show you how much structure you need. Is it too little or is it taking over your life? Be creative and try operating outside of your comfort zone. You only need to vary your routine a little to get different results.
Pay attention to your body
RF: “I’m able to say, it doesn’t hurt me today, but it could hurt me tomorrow.” Roger has only retired from a match once in his life. He knows when he can “play through it” and when he can’t.
Business Translation: If you are fatigued physically or mentally, let your body be your guide and take some time off. Not to get out of work, but to come back stronger. Make sure you allocate time for proactively taking care of you. Walk, run, exercise at the gym, take a yoga class; there are endless possibilities and it will strengthen both the inner and outer body.
Travel can be fun – enjoy it
RF: “The tour is not supposed to be brutal and annoying.” Some players come to see globetrotting as soul crushing but Roger has a love for travel and soaks up the local culture with his wife and children.
Business Translation: We all have a part of our job that is routine, the “process” to the end result (e.g., getting a new client). Do we find a way to enjoy it or does it become a necessary evil that drains our energy? Knowing your strengths in your DNA Behavior will allow you to structure your day so that you are operating from that place 80% of the time. Or, minimally, you will be able to reframe your mindset to gain more energy to do the necessary tasks with more positive energy.
Take two- to four- week training periods for:
- Rest and recovery
- Strength and endurance (not tennis-related)
- Tennis exercise like court footwork (but with medicine balls, not rackets and balls)
- Tennis practice
When Roger had lingering back pain, he put extra emphasis on his abdominal muscles. After two years, the strategy is finally paying off.
Business Translation: There was a popular phrase, “Work Hard and Play Hard”. But lately, that phrase has gotten lost in the 10 to 12 hour workday and shortened to just “Work Hard”. What rest and relaxation do we allow ourselves? Is it just the standard vacation time? Could there be parts of a day where you relax and read? Or, do you consider that to be non-productive? Your Business DNA will help you discover whether balance is part of your natural game or if you need to be more aware of your tendency to overwork with no recovery time. And, keep in mind that your change in strategy can take a few years before it really pays off.
Finally, the attitude with which Roger Federer approaches both practice and the game is the ultimate lesson for us all. His personal trainer says, “He still trains with the enthusiasm of a junior. Sometimes I think, damn it, he’s doing these exercises now 2,756 times, but he does it as if it was the first time. Roger still has the energy of a 23-year-old. He’s relentlessly optimistic.”
Business Translation: Are you approaching each day with an open attitude that there is still a lot to learn about you and your “game of business”? Get your own personal performance index now, click here.
For additional information on increasing engagement of others, visit our DNA Behavior Website.
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