In 2003 Martina Navratilova was 46 years old. That is considered ancient in the world of professional sports. Heck, that is considered ancient in some cultures.
On the professional tennis circuit, Martina was considered nothing less then amazing. That year Martina has won Grand Slam mixed doubles titles at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. When great tennis players are retiring in their earlier thirties, how and why was Martina able to go on?
In the late seventies and all through the eighties, Martina and Chris Evert slugged it out, jockeying back and forth for the title of greatest female professional tennis player. Evert finished the year ranked first six times, Navratilova seven. Each won 18 Grand Slam singles titles. Evert, at the age of 44, retired in 1989.
Evert built her game with impeccable ground shots. Playing against her was like hitting a ball off the side of your house, it was always going to come back.
Martina on the other hand, forever changed the way women played tennis. Her personal attributes served her well on the tennis court and they can serve you well in the world of business.
Here are a few of Martina’s success secrets:
Martina redefined what women’s tennis is all about. Instead of spending all day every day on the court practicing, Martina created an entirely different training schedule.
Of course she spent hours on the tennis court, but she hired a trainer and worked out extensively in the weight room. She ran. Martina even played basketball.
Next Martina hired a nutritionist. It wasn’t enough to just train better, she also wanted to eat better.
Martina became a strong athlete, and left her competition behind. She hit the ball harder, ran faster, and had quicker hands. Late in a match when her opponent was tiring, she was still strong and winning points.
By redefining what it meant to be a success in tennis, the world was forced to play by her rules. She had a higher standard, and she dominated. Martina took accountability to define her own set of physical fitness standards and then lived to those higher standards.
Who takes the accountability to define what the rules of success are in your business? Is it your competition or is it you? If you’re playing by everyone else’s rules, you can only be as good as they are. If you are accountable to write new rules and play to a higher standard, then you have a head start and a distinct competitive advantage.
When Martina started in professional tennis she showed glimpses of greatness, but she lost far more times then she won. There were issues holding her back. She was unpolished as a player and somewhat emotional.
Martina believed in herself and was willing to stick with it. She worked hard on her game and her mindset. She started winning and became well recognized as a professional tennis player.
Martina was born in Prague which is in the Czech Republic. Early on she realized that she would not have the opportunities for success there as she would outside of the Iron Curtain.
As an American she flourished. She was able to create her incredible training program and blossom.
It wasn’t easy at first but Martina was persistent. She stuck with it. When she fails Martina didn’t make excuses. She retained her personal accountability. She was willing to do what she had to do to until she got to do what she wanted to do. How willing are you?
Do you stick with projects? Are you willing to do anything to reach your goals? Can you work past short-term failures to get to long-term successes?
That’s what persistence is all about, and all of the great business professionals I know have it. Do you?
Commitment To Winning
Martina was good enough to play professional tennis, but that wasn’t good enough for her. She wanted to win. It wasn’t just about playing the sport. If this was an event worthy of her time, then this was an event worthy of winning.
Persistence isn’t enough. I‘ve seen plenty of persistently average people. They plow along at the same pace year after year. They are dependable. You can count on them being there. But, they are never in the winner’s circle.
A commitment to winning is what separates the champions from the field. It’s what keeps the great professionals driving year after year.
Martina practically owns every record in professional tennis. Why does she still compete? First, she says it’s her commitment to winning. She was trained to win. If you said, “Let’s go to the mailbox,” I bet she would want to race!
By winning the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon in 2003, Martina tied the record of 20 titles at Wimbledon held by Billie Jean King. Do you think Martina wanted to come back to England next year and break that record?
Count on it!
Are you committed to the game or to winning? Are you accountable for your results? Will you do whatever you must to not just compete but to win? It’s an attitude, a mind set that all the great business professionals I know have. They play to win and win at what they do. You don’t have to be mean or cruel or play dirty to win. What you have to be is committed.
By redefining greatness for yourself, being persistent, and being committed to success you will be on the way to Building a Better Biz!