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Champion Leadership Blog

Tennis Upset Shows Self-Belief Not As Important To Success

Last Friday the greatest upset in professional tennis in my lifetime occurred at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships.

Italian Roberta Vinci, ranked 43rd in the world, defeated top-seeded American Serena Williams in the women semi-finals.

Until the defeat Williams was on a path become the first woman in 27-years to win tennis’ Grand Slam, winning all four major tournaments in one calendar year.

During an on-court interview Vinci was asked what gave her the belief when she woke up in the morning that she could beat Serena Williams.

Her response was, “nothing, I didn’t. I just wanted to enjoy the experience of being in the semi-finals.”

Success experts for centuries have spoken about self-belief being the key to success. That in order to “achieve it” you have to “believe it.”

Vinci destroyed that success tenet.

She did discuss her success strategy, which for her situation, made a lot of sense.

She said she tried not to think about who was on the other side of the court and said something to the affect of just “focusing on hitting the ball back over the net and running after it.”

That speaks to focusing on the fundamentals.

A point I’ve made for years is that championships are won by “doing fundamental things extraordinarily well.”

So, I think we can still agree that mindset is vitally important to achieving success.

What works, though, regarding “belief” in these situations is that an individual must believe that the mindset they choose is the right mindset for them in that moment.

Imagine, if Vinci’s coach tried to encourage her to recite affirmations about believing she could beat Williams.

Vinci’s subconscious mind would have rejected the suggestion and would have distracted her from focusing on the fundamentals.

Five years ago I created a process called “active affirmations,” which seems to be similar to what Vinci applied in her monumental victory. I’ll elaborate on “active affirmations” next time.

Please leave a comment below. Tell me what you think and continue the conversation.

’til next time Communicate With Power!

skip-weisman-professional speaker-small business championship coach

There are 6 comments. Add yours.

  1. Jose Luis

    Risking to become a copycat, “Just Do It”.

  2. Lisa

    I used to get stuck in the negative self-talk trap where “I can’t” often went with a sense of being overwhelmed. On the flipside, I have a 9 year-old who plays baseball and is a wreck when things don’t play out the way he expects because he doesn’t understand how to fail (and live to fight another inning). I have succeeded most often by not considering “to fail” or “to succeed” but by just “to do…to act…to finish”. There is power in seeing only the end job and pushing through to reach the shore. It is then that I look back and can say “I DID!”

  3. Kenn

    I get something slightly different. She was “present” in the moment. Everything in her life lead up to that moment. There was no additional preparation that she could have done so she felt no pressure and was able to just enjoy the moment. In sports it’s never about your opponent but more so about being the best that you can in that moment.

    That is what we can control.

    She could not control what Serena would (or would not) do so why waste energy on that thought process. All she had to do was play tennis. It’s what she has done all her life. Just play tennis and enjoy the moment. The chips will fall where they will and they did.

    Which is more productive: “I’m playing the number one and most dominant women’s player in the world” or “today I will play the best tennis I can and enjoy it”. Personally, I can always deal with the contest not going my way as long as I gave the best of myself in the moment.

    Besides, pressure stems from not being prepared. When you are prepared then all you have to do is enjoy the moment and execute. It doesn’t matter if it’s sports or that big presentation. There is only so much prep one can do.

    Again, the chips will fall where they will.

    Good for her!
    Kenn

  4. hein

    Of course a lot things come together.
    But as a professional to do the first step/ go step-by-step/ concentrate on what you can do or influence on your own helps to achieve.

    Always good to see things happening.

  5. Dr. A. K. M. Suzaur Rahman

    Dear Skip!!

    Its all about PAVEST = Planning, Sense, Enjoy, Analysis, Vigor and Technique

    Planning: Do a detail planning with timeline/various scenarios/alternatives/circumstances
    Sense: While performing just try to be always in the planned track/path/strategic direction and assess on it
    Enjoy: Do whatever you are doing with full joy as a free but guided, planned man
    Analysis: Do a very detailed analysis on competitors SWOT/your SWOT/perspective/contingencies
    Vigor: Always be a energetic, vigorous man/workers/performer/player
    Technique: Apply the best possible skill/technique/method/mechanism
    Thats it, PAVEST sound good?
    Can it be a term for success?

    Dr. Suzaur

  6. Hi Skip,

    Great story. It reminds me of one of Mike Seddon’s questions from his “The Last Webinar”: Are you enjoying the journey?

    Two points: It’s a journey. And – you should be enjoying it.

    It’s far easier to enjoy the journey when you’re focused on just being in the moment; doing your best right now. Most of us get caught up worrying about what will be… And we lose sight of the joy of mastering the process.

    Dov Gordon

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