I was talking with my dad this morning about the French Open tennis tournament. Before I lose you with sports talk, this is a great metaphor for life that I think is worth your time, so stay with me. One of the tennis greats is Rafael Nadal, who had a stellar early career, and in the last couple of years has really fallen back in terms of the elite tennis players. The French Open marked a triumphant return where he crushed everyone. He’s 31, which is old for tennis, meaning he doesn’t have the strength/speed of the youngsters coming up, so he has to play his game now and play it smart.
And that’s where the life advice comes into play. I noticed, observing Nadal, that he doesn’t play on the defensive. He directs the flow of play, puts himself out there hard. He plays with aggression, and he plays to win at every moment, and more importantly, no matter the score, he never lets up with that.
That’s the attitude it takes to win. You have to be aggressive, you have to push hard. You have to fire your shots and let the chips fall as they may. Nadal was drilling his shots down the lines, inches from being out so often, and yet those are the shots that his opponents can’t recover from. Think about it.
Life is a risk, and it’s about attitude. The winners in life have confidence, and that’s one of the big key determinants of their success. Nadal has the confidence to take those shots, to play a smart game even though he may not have the physical prowess he used to – and it pays off. Moreover, what confidence does is it makes your opponents feel overwhelmed by you. Over time, they see your prowess and they start to panic, and when they panic, that’s when they’ll make their mistakes. Confidence is something you can train yourself in. It’s all about how you talk to yourself internally. There’s plenty of books about cultivating that that you can check out, and I recommend Gorilla Mindset.
Next, you have to have a solid strategy in place to begin with, and stick with it. There’ll be points where commentators and bystanders will be out there criticizing your every move – when it looks like you’re against the ropes. That’s part of the swing of life, but it’s also nothing to fear. The commentators don’t care, their “concern” for your strategies is not something that should be second guessed in the middle of play, and it never helps you to do so. The peanut gallery is not there to help you win. Those people are only there to tear you down, nothing else. Stick with your game plan. The minute you equivocate, you lose. Nadal stuck with his game plan through a whole tournament, and through his smart play, he achieved his victory. You can too.
The last thing that you have to follow like Rafael Nadal is to strike hard, and strike fast. Pick your targets with precision and execute. It can’t be haphazard, it has to be according to plan. His shots right down the line or cross court are intentional every time, and that’s what it takes to throw your opponents off balance and achieve victory.
It’s really beautiful watching Nadal play, and inspiring for life. You can take everything he does in working hard, being supremely confident, and executing your game plan into any situation. It doesn’t matter what it is. That type of mindset will ALWAYS come out on top. Just power through the injuries and the bad times and you’ll get there.