So far in his career Roger Federer has won 17 Grand Slam titles and two Olympic medals. He has spent a total of 302 weeks at number one in the ATP world rankings and now, in his mid-thirties, he is currently number 3 in the world. No one would bet against him adding to his remarkable tally of Grand Slam titles or securing that elusive Olympic Gold medal in singles in Rio later this year. The man is a phenomenon and quite possibly the finest player that ever lived.
I have had the pleasure of watching him play on the Centre Court at Wimbledon and marvelled as he wielded his racquet like a magician waves a wand, conjuring shots that simply did not look possible until he made them happen.
Natural talent? Good genes? Fantastic hand-eye co-ordination? Yes, to all of those things. But even talented people like Roger Federer still have to work hard to become the best that they can be.
Did you know for instance that Roger made the decision to leave home and go and live with a host family at the tender age of 14 in order to further his tennis career? Or that he used to throw racquets and have tantrums in his junior playing days? Hard to imagine that now when we watch his silky shots and cool demeanour on court.
What Roger realized early on is that to be the best you can be sacrifices have to be made. He was also savvy enough to know that his lack of self-control in his junior playing days would hurt his career and so he made the effort to change. Despite all that he has attained over the years, Federer still strives to make his game the best that it can be, tweaking shots to eliminate weaknesses even now, pushing himself to break new ground. Like all successful people, he never settles for what he has got. He always wants more. Successful people are greedy.
Mental strength, fortitude and dedication are second nature to sports people at the top of their game. The good news for us less gifted individuals is that these attributes can be translated into a formula of success whatever dreams you follow whether they be creative, practical or spiritual. We can be greedy, too!
Fortunately, most of us do not have to move house to follow our dreams but we do like to dwell within our comfort zones.
The chances are to be able to achieve the things we want to achieve we need to step beyond our bubble and challenge ourselves. We need to feel uncomfortable.
People who test and push their boundaries often find they are capable of so much more than they thought possible and then there is no stopping them. So next time you think ‘I can’t do that’, think again. Are you sure? And if the challenge is just too daunting why not come up with a smaller step that will set you on your way.
When it comes to being dedicated there are no half measures. The reason most people don’t do what it takes? It hurts. Some throw themselves into a new project to the exclusion of all else and burn themselves out. Others are so overwhelmed by the scale of the task, they find every excuse under the sun to put it off.
We all know it’s easier to settle down in front of the TV for the evening or surf the internet instead of answering those business emails or reading that text book. And there’s nothing wrong with taking time out now and again. We all need to recharge our batteries. But if you spend most of the time shooting the breeze, you’d better be sure to lower your expectations of what you can achieve because if you still harbour the same dreams of success but aren’t putting the hours in, you are going to wind up plagued by guilt over that box set binge. And carrying around the burden of guilt will make it less likely you will shrug off your torpor and change your life.
What can you do? We’re all creatures of habit, so you need to form a new habit. Do something, however small, to further your dreams of fulfilment every day and when you hit a planned target have a celebration lined up ready to go.
We can’t all be a sports champion like Roger Federer but we can learn from his determination to maximise his talents. If he had never left home at 14 or learned how to control his temper on court, would he be the sporting icon he is today?
Don’t dwell within your comfort zone – take a step outside, there’s a whole world waiting for you and you might find you are pleasantly surprised by what you can achieve.