Most sports are full of lessons for the discerning. Tennis is no exception. Wimbledon 2005 is over now but hopefully some of the lessons described below will live on for ever.
In the first week of Wimbledon on June 20th 2005, a commentator asked why Venus Williams, a former Wimbledon champion, was only fourteenth in the women's circuit.
As one might expect, John McEnroe had the answer:
"It is too easy to turn down the chance to workout for an hour in favour of a chance to see Michangelo's David."
In other words, Venus was goofing off by enjoying world culture instead of keeping her nose to the grindstone and working hard like the other girls. In the end, however, Venus won Wimbledon and regained her championship and her form.
Maybe McEnroe was wrong and her talent and previous hard work were enough to bring her the rewards. Maybe she was working out in secret! Maybe she had already put in an hour's practice and was free to follow her other interests.
However, whether right or wrong, McEnroe highlights one of the great success secrets of all time. We have a choice about how we spend each hour of the day.
If we spend hours a day watching TV, we will usually accomplish little but if we spend one hour a day practising a skill like copywriting or playing the flute we will gradually become an expert at that skill.
After six months or even less, we should be able to make money at these skills or, at least, teach them to others.
If we spend an hour a day reading a book on how to make money, our chances of making money will increase. If we walk for an hour each day our health should improve. The power of the hour is enormous.
It has been suggested by Al Secunda, author of 'The 15 second Principle', that we should spend at least 15 seconds a day learning a skill we wish to master. Another 15 seconds could be spent on dealing with an overwhelming task like filing all that paper that has amassed so swiftly. A third 15 second period could be spent on achieving one of our goals.
If we keep up this habit of working for 15 seconds a day, we will probably eventually upgrade to an hour a day. We will spend an hour learning a new skill, an hour dealing with an overwhelming task and an hour achieving one of our goals.
If you like acronyms you could use SOG to remember those three hours i.e. Skill, Overwhelming task, Goal. Even if you only spend three hours a day on these three things, you will have accomplished far more than most. If necessary start with just 15 seconds or five minutes for each of the three objectives and then gradually increase the amount of time spent.
On Tuesday 21st June, the second day of Wimbledon, Tim Henman, who usually manages to lose a match before he gets into the semi-finals of Wimbledon, was playing the talented Finn, Nieminen, who had put Agassi out of the first round of the Paris Open.
Tim lost the first two sets but regained his form, composure and belief in the nick of time to win against Nieminen. He commented:
"I was not in form but I was proud of myself for making do with what I had at the time."
A large part of success is "making do with what we have at the time."
On Thursday June 23rd 2005, Andrew Murray, the possible Scottish replacement for Henman, who was ranked 312 in the world woke up with a headache and sore throat but he made do with what he had and went on to beat Radec Stepanek, the Czech ranked 14 in the world, on the same day that Tim Henman went out of the competition.
On Wednesday June 22nd 2005, Mike Litman, one of my favourite motivators, sent out his ezine containing his comments on a Forbes Magazine article about the tennis sensation, Maria Sharapova, who is already a huge attraction at Wimbledon
Maria is from Russia and she won Wimbledon last year. It was a huge upset that catapulted her to stardom. She made 20 million dollars last year and is only seventeen.
Mike Litman was fascinated by the 3rd paragraph of the article which starts with:
"This is the payoff for 12 years of six-hour practice days and constant travel...."
Six hours of practice a day is no fun. It might be for an hour or so but after that it becomes sheer graft. Constant travel is no fun either after the first few journeys. It is a tough and lonely business. Not only Maria but her family also have made huge sacrifices. They have earned their money.
Mike Litman comments:
"I come across so many people that expect success and money to happen in 2 minutes. I admit that I used to be like that too. You start something, 60 days go by and no big payoff; you quit, start something new, and the same thing happens over and over again. It's a vicious circle."
Everything changed for Mike when he started to pay the price, improve his discipline and make his goals smaller. He also is doing very well now and is well known in internet circles. He insists that we all can be highly successful if we are willing to pay the price.
On Friday, 24th June 2005, Taylor Dent of the USA gave a great performance of spinning his racket as well as playing tennis. I am sorry that I missed much of this but was delighted by the little bit I did see.
I congratulate Taylor on giving that bit of extra value to the spectators. He or she who gives extra value will soon be valued highly themselves.
The first five days of Wimbledon 2005, then, can teach us to work hard for an hour a day at a skill, an overwhelming task and a goal. We can learn to SOG off rather than to goof off! Sorry, I couldn't resist the corny word play. It might just help us to remember the point better.
We can learn to make do with what we have on the day even if we are not at our best. We can learn to pay the price of success and we can try to give extra value by doing more than people expect from us. If we do all this we shall surely become champions of living and become an inspiration to others.