I play tennis. I’m also captain of an ALTA mixed doubles team that plays twice a year. I’ve learned you have to do the work if you want to win. Same in my business. There are no shortcuts. You also need a thick skin.
This Summer I’ve realized my potential as a better player by putting in the hours it takes to learn new and better habits on the court. In tennis you have 5 lines which play each week, 1 being the best players down to line 5 who are still really great players, but usually have a smaller percentage of wins. I was a line 6 player when I first started playing a year and a half ago. Yes, I was terrible. So, I did something about it. I practiced. I played. I joined league tennis and other ALTA teams throughout the past year and a half. I even made myself play singles three seasons even though it scared the hell out of me. I did it anyway because I knew the challenge of playing singles, relying on no one else, would be the only way to get better. It worked. I got a LOT better and went to playoffs my last singles season. I also went to playoffs my last league mixed doubles season as well as won a bag tag for a winning doubles season about a year ago. I employed visualization and meditation techniques into my game and literally saw myself getting better each week. I believed in myself and my inner tennis ace responded.
Today I played Line 2 with my neighbor (a very accomplished A player) across the street and we won. We both made mistakes but we recovered, tightened up our mental game and kicked butt. Ask anyone who watched. I cried when he told me the match was over and we won. I didn’t even realize we were done, that’s how intense it was. We went to a tie-breaker in the 2nd set and won 7-6. I cried some more and let myself embrace that moment when all of my hard work came together. I think the other players thought I was nuts. Who cares. Every hour I spent on the court over the past year and a half had finally paid off and I proved I could handle Line 2. I’ve never been as proud of myself as a tennis player as I was in that moment. Awesome!
So here’s where the thick skin comes in. Tonight, a friend of a member of my team said to another the only reason I decided to put myself at Line 2 and play with my A-ranked neighbor was because I was sick of losing. I guess it had nothing to do with the fact that over the past almost two years I’ve put in approximately 538 hours of tennis practice, lessons and matches. Those lessons were a big investment not only in time but also in money. I guess she felt I would continue to lose no matter what and my only option was to find a shortcut by playing with someone who could bring home a big win. She’s been to practice twice this season. I haven’t missed one. I didn’t think earning 2 bag tags (equivalent of trophies in league tennis) in the past year and a half and making playoffs 4 times would count as losing. Interesting. I’m sorry to hear she didn’t feel I earned the right to play Line 2 because of my own skills and hard work while everyone else on the team encouraged me to go for it and believed in me. BTW, my neighbor asked me to join him at Line 2. He had no doubt I could do it.
My friend Chris Brogan writes, “If you don’t do the work, you can’t be surprised that you’re not getting the results.” This not only goes for tennis, it goes for your business. Every day entrepreneurs practice their sales, accounting, writing, people and marketing skills. If you’re not practicing and cultivating better habits, you’re business isn’t growing and getting better. If you’re not challenging yourself, you won’t grow. Do things that scare the hell out of you. Find your weakness and face it head on by doing research to find how others have overcome that same issue. Make yourself learn more by following smart people; people that are doing it better than you. Attending conferences and classes. Practice what you learn as much as possible. Visualize bigger opportunities. Read books and write. I promise, you will see improvement.
Most of all stop listening to people who believe you’re taking shortcuts. Their opinions are really about themselves and where they are in the world at that moment. They have nothing to do with you. I promise.
BTW, next week we play Line 1.