December 3, 2016
We start at a young age with the inclination that failing is being failure. I disagree. There are so many examples where this is just plain wrong. Here are some extreme ones. The world’s #1 tennis player, Andy Murray, has played in 70 career finals of tournaments. He lost 24 of them. Serena Williams who holds 22 grand slam singles titles (tied for the most with Steffi Graff), lost 6 other finals, not including any tournaments (there were many) that she didn’t make it to the finals. Jack Nicholas, the winner of more majors (there are 4 in a calendar year) than any other golfer, averaged less than 1 per year in his 25-year career. That’s a lot of failing. Movies like to show how players over come obstacles to win as the climax of the movie but the reality is that the most successful people have failed more times than succeeded. This isn’t just limited to athletes. Have you heard of Traf-O-Data? Someone you might have heard before produced this failure of a business: Bill Gates. The stories go on and on about failing but I would guess that there isn’t a person on the planet that would call any of the people in the example above a failure.
It is without question that almost all recreational tennis players would like to be better than they currently are. The real question is to ask everyone if they are willing to fail to get better. This immediately narrows the field to the select few that are willing to be vulnerable and let their ego be exposed to allow for growth and success in the future. Players complain of losing and do what they can to avoid it the next time. That can mean avoiding stronger competition or risking loses to players that they have beat in the past. On the other hand, the player that risks losing to strong and weak players gains great experience and improves. If you pick the latter, be prepared to have your self-confidence and resiliency to be tested. The unshakable confidence needed to handle losing is seen in the professional world but rarely in the recreational scene.
By exposing yourself to failure as you train and progress as a tennis player, the fear of losing a match becomes less engulfing. You begin to realize the outcome of the tennis matches are not going to ruin or make your career but rather help show you how well you are preparing for them. Maria Sharapova or Rafael Nadal are great examples of this as they fight and claw for every point when they compete. Win or lose, they give it their all. Losing isn’t what they are afraid of. They are more concerned with not giving a valiant effort every time they walk on that court. So the question goes something like this. “Are you willing to accept losing as a way to become more successful?” This is the true gut check to seeing how bad you really want to get better at tennis.
I’m not sure if this is a quote or not, but I can some up this with, “if you stop failing, you become a failure.”