Friday, January 27, 2012

Why Roger Federer Is Not A Champion

There you go - I said I wasn't an avid Australian Open fan and here I am posting comment on it for the second time in a week. Perhaps these late night viewings are helped by the fact that I've now got a newborn in the house?! Yes, you read it correctly... I am posting this at 425am!

You've got to hand it to them - Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal certainly know how to put on a show.

The point I want to make here echoes the observations I made a couple of days ago about the Li Na vs Clijsters fixture...

Mental toughness is what wins you matches.

Federer is without a doubt the most gifted technical tennis player the world has ever seen. His achilles heel? His mind.

Tonight he played Nadal in the semi-final and at 9pm the fireworks (to mark Australia Day) erupted over the Rod Laver stadium. There was a break in play.

Having won the first set 7-6, Federer came back after the break a different player.

His focus was off. His famous backhand (and equally famous forehand) were failing him and as fate would have it, all the luck was going Nadal's way.

Whilst Nadal loudly celebrated every point he won (even the ones at 15 love), Federer became even more silent and brooding.

It wasn't his game that led Federer to lose the match, it was his mind.

Mindsets win matches.

Your mindset is no different. It can be a phenomenal asset or a devastating hindrance. And here's the really interesting part:

- There may be a limit to the level of skill you can attain (let's face it, we can't all be as good as Federer)
- But you have TOTAL control of your mindset

The difference between Federer and Nadal is simple:

- Federer values 'skill set' most highly.
- Nadal values 'positive mindset no matter what' most highly. The result? His competitive advantage.

In my view, Nadal's got it right.

What do you think?

- Rebecca

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Lesson from Tennis: Believe in Your Own Convictions

For the first time ever, I've been quite engrossed by the Australian Open, watching a number of matches over the last few days (I'm more of a Wimbledon-once-a-year sort of tennis viewer).

But last night, there was a gripper.

All the hopes of China rested on Li Na, the only professional tennis player ever to have represented China and her opponent, Kim Clijsters was back from retirement and also battling a serious ankle injury.

By the end of the second set it looked like Li had it in the bag, achieving four consecutive match points.

Having been behind throughout the entire match, Clijsters surprised everyone by defending each of those points before going on to breaking Li's serve twice and then convincingly winning the next set and therefore the match.

So where did it all go wrong for Li?

Well to sum it up in two words, she had a mental meltdown.

Li speedily transitioned from being comfortably ahead; acting decisively; and going for difficult shots to questioning her judgment and making a series of unforced errors.

Noticeably she also began to listen to the advice shouted to her from the sidelines - her husband (who doubles up as her coach) began encouraging her to challenge line calls which she wouldn't normally have queried.

His judgment was proven wrong twice and, due to the fact a player has a limited number of valuable challenges they can make, this only added to Li's frustration and dwindling focus.

Isn't it interesting how people question theiur own judgment more readily when under pressure?

'Are other people right and therefore I am wrong?'
'Am I on the right track?'

Having presence of mind is vital when building your powerful personal brand and learning to trust your own intuition - whatever the pressure - is a skill that will absolutely help your self-certainty soar.

When have you stood firm and trusted your intuition under testing cirumcumstances? I'd love to see your comments!

- Rebecca

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I'm in the midst of reading Timothy Ferriss' "The 4 Hour Workweek" full of ideas and strategies to live life and run a business more efficiently.

The word 'experiment' comes up often. I like it. I think it should be used more often in conversation.

When coaching, the concept of having 'the' right answer rears its ugly head time and time again with different clients:

"What if I don't have the right answer? I'll sound stupid."
"What if I say the wrong thing? I'll look like a monkey."

Fears like these are commonplace so if you see yourself saying either of the above, you can rest safe in the knowledge that you're not alone. That said, it doesn't mean that either statement is likely to propel you forwards.

Let's re-wind the clock.

Think back to being young. Remember how wonderful it was to have no woes. At age 5 the biggest worry you'll have had was whether or not to wear blue or white shoes.

These were days of play. Of experience. Of learning. At this age we were content seeing how things worked, how they could be broken and put back together again.

- We were okay if the building blocks fell over. We just built them up again.

- We were okay if we said the wrong word. We just saw it as an opportunity to learn.

- We were okay if we made chocolate chip cookies with pink icing on top. We just saw it as a means to get more sugar in our bellies.

We were EXPERIMENTING. And not only was it 'okay' - it was also a heap of fun.

Here's a thought: give yourself permission to experiment. To play. To get things 'wrong' and see the funny side.

Life and work are so much more fun when we get curious and choose to experiment rather than seeking the truth or the 'right' answer. Who knows? You might uncover something even better.

Mmmm ... Choc chips cookies with pink icing ... I could be onto something!

- Rebecca