courtesy of HBO
“Besides winning, (the most fun thing is) getting out there and mixing it up with friends; it’s the competition.” Al Unser, Jr.
Good or bad – I have always been a competitive person. This could be because I like a challenge - but most likely it is because I like to win.
When I was younger, I enjoyed watching John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. They took tennis to the next level and were not only professional athletes, but they made the sport cool and fun. Over the weekend I watched a new documentary on HBO Sports Legends and Legacy show called McEnroe/Borg – Fire and Ice . This documentary is about the rivalry in the late 70′s and early 80′s and the relationship between these two very different tennis players.
This documentary surprised me. It not only focused on the competitive nature between the two, but how the relationship and competition made both better tennis players. John McEnroe said that the competition with Bjorn Borg lifted him as a player and as a person. As the competition ended, so did the success of both tennis players.
Is this true in our professional lives as well – can we raise our game by mixing it up? Here are some thoughts:
- Embrace those who have a different view - Learn from those who have a different style than you do. Do they approach things differently, taking a different route from point A to B? This varied approach and thought process, although you may not agree with it, offers a different perspective and can help you grow.
- Embrace your weakness - We tend to do what is comfortable for us. Embracing your weaknesses may be intimidating, but it may help you learn to combat your weakness. Shrink it. Don’t be afraid of your weakness, instead confront it.
- Seek out friendly competition - Let the passion of others drive you to a level above where you are currently performing. You will be amazed of what you are capable of. Don’t forget to compete with yourself and continually challenge yourself to be better. Learn something new each day.
- Learn how to win gracefully but more importantly, learn to lose - We cannot win all the time. Did you lose because someone else out performed you or because you did not play your best game? The only thing you can control is your game, so always play your best one.
Let’s put ourselves out there, have fun and mix it up.
A special thanks to those people who have helped me raise my game and be a better person, colleague and HR professional.
Photo credit Fox.com
Fox has a television show on Tuesday night called Glee. Glee is a musical, comedy-drama based on a high school glee club. A high school friend of mine recently informed me that the character who plays the cheer-leading coach on Glee, was based on my high school tennis coach. The name of the coach on Glee is Sue Sylvester and the name of my coach is Sue Silvey. Besides the similarity in the names, the resemblance is uncanny. Coach Silvey wore an Adidas jogging suit, had similar hair and demeanor. Could this be true?
Returning home, I ransacked my house looking for high school photos. There she was, Sue Silvey – the memories rushed in.
Coach Silvey was my tennis coach for all four years of high school. She had a smile that said she was not going to be fooled, had her eye on us and knew exactly what we were up to. She was competitive, a driver and pushed me all four years. At the time I did not realize how much I learned from her, and would not until I was much older. As I reflect on my teenage years, here are few things I learned:
Action speak louder than words
- How you play a sport is more important than winning.
- Learning to accept constructive feedback – often.
- Healthy competition is good!
- How to win and lose gracefully. (not sure I really learned this one)
- Enthusiasm is contagious!
The power of constructive criticism
- Coaches are always telling you how you can improve your game. Take their advice and try it.
- Don’t be offended about the feedback given. Take it in stride and work towards improving.
- Always be reflective about yourself and your contributions.
- Listen, watch and observe.
- There is always something you can improve on.
- How to balance school, sports and fun.
- Establish a routine that provides the necessary training to improve skills.
- Work as a team, collaborate and be supportive of each other.
- Know your limitations and learn ways to work around them to achieve the desired results.
- Push yourself and always go above and beyond.
- Never be satisfied and having a strong desire to deliver results.
These lessons I learned are applicable to my every day work environment. Playing team sports taught me so much and made me a better professional. Coach Silvey led me on this path while I was a young, energetic teenager. It has been many years since I have seen Coach Silvey. I would like to thank her for all she did for me.
What do you think? Did you have a coach or mentor that had an impact your life?