Tennis was a sport that I played from a young age, and in lots of ways I think there’s skills and insights that can help succeed in business.
Recently I’ve started hitting tennis balls again… and I’m really enjoying it Tennis was a major part of my childhood and I played it pretty seriously as an adult through the late 80s.. and into the 90s… wow, how time flies; it’s been 26 years since I played a competitive match.
As I’ve started hitting tennis balls again it’s made me think, and realise, there are some ways in which I believe tennis – and this applies to other sports – has helped me in business.
1. Complete focus on the fundamentals
Tennis requires dedicated practise on the fundamentals almost every day to have a good, rock solid foundation. I used to hit hundreds of groundstrokes and serves, over and over again, working on the basics. In business its important to take consistent action on the fundamentals, and not get distracted by the latest trend. You need a rock solid foundation to build on.
2. Effort is not enough
I used to practice so much, so hard.. in fact my philosophy was to make practice harder than the games I was playing but this didn’t mean I was always successful – the key is effort is not always enough, you need to combine effort with a good strategy and looking back at some of my tennis results when I applied effort with a good strategy was when I achieved my best results; a key for success in business too
3. Find weaknesses to create opportunities
Tennis teaches you to look for your opponents weaknesses to create opportunities.. sounds like a good business strategy? Sure it does!
4. Physically fit helps mental fitness
I trained super hard for tennis.. and this effort rolled over into other sports I competed in. You needed to take care of yourself to be in the best possible shape to perform on the day – eating well, getting some sleep and knowing what worked for me to ensure I could perhaps at my best level. When I felt fit and focused I was ready… mentally as well. Making time to stay physically fit now helps my mental approach in business, but with a young family this has its challenges and is a consistent work in progress.
5. Dealing with stress
I know I didn’t always deal with stress well when I played tennis, but I know I got better. On a tennis court there’s nowhere to hide, there’s no one to call for help… it’s all on you. When I feel over whelmed on the work front I take it in bite sized chunks, like when I was playing tennis and when things got pressured I played a game point by point, and then the larger result would take care of itself.
6. Goal planning
I always set goals when I played tennis, writing them down. I did it from a relatively young age and achieved many of them. This goal setting obviously applies to business; setting goals, planning longer term, monitoring and evaluating results to make sure I’m on track.
This sounds obvious, but I think it has different levels. Tennis, and sport, helps us with tenacity, discipline and competiveness. I would looks for ways to win, and this is the same in business, but often winning can come in different forms and can come from trust, trust in yourself, trust in the process and trust in others
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