There are a lot of obvious parallels that people like to draw from sport when they talk about how to be successful – the need “to work hard” or “be well-prepared”. We like to think these things are fairly obvious. Yet, they’re on to something. There’s much advice to be drawn from how tennis players approach a tournament, like the U.S. Open, that can provide practical advice in your own career.
Leverage Your Advisors
You might not have a fitness trainer, a tennis coach and an agent traveling with you, but you do have your own team of advisors. This could be family, your best friend, wife/husband, it doesn’t matter – just don’t forget that they’re there and they can help you. Whether it’s advice on making a career move or an extra pair of eyes to read over a resume before it’s submitted, they’re there to help.
Keep Your Focus
Ensure you focus on the task at hand. Yes, it’s important to plan your move up through the ranks (whether actively seeking a promotion or career change) but it shouldn’t become your sole focus. In a tournament, the minute you start focusing on the 2nd round is the minute you’ve just lost in the 1st round. You may be able to complete the tasks you’re doing right now with ease, but that doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t spend the time to do them well.
We’re sure that Roger Federer doesn’t feel he should have to play people that are ranked three hundred places below him in the world in the first round.
Look to Improve
Obvious bit of advice alert (!). Sure it sounds obvious, but few people take this kind of advice seriously. For instance, simply going to work every day doesn’t mean you’re improving your skills. Are you learning new skills or going over the same ones time and time again? If you’re that good at Excel, why not take a certification course or if finance floats your boat what about going for a CA?
It’s subtle, but tennis pros don’t just go out and hit a few shots and then show up on court. They’re constantly making adjustments, trying new techniques – in other words enhancing their skills. It’s not a static process for them and it shouldn’t be for you.
Ever get frustrated working on a project with certain co-workers? Think your boss has it in for you? It’s easy to get frustrated at work, but it will only contribute to an already tough day or week for that matter. The great tennis players always remain calm under pressure and duress, they’re not the ones blowing their top or throwing their racket.
When you get frustrated it takes up energy and causes you to lose focus, things that will keep you from your best. Always look for a way around a problem or suggest an alternative if it’s just not working – be constructive.
Photo: Above photograph used under CC license
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