The Play to Win Mindset
This year’s Wimbledon Tennis Tournament has been nothing short of exceptional with 35-year-old Roger Federer winning his 8th Wimbledon. It’s also his 19th Major Championship. Both are all-time records. What makes his victory even more extraordinary is that he had knee surgery last year which required a six-month layoff from competition. Federer had also not won a major in five years. In watching Roger perform, I wondered what has kept him at the top of his game for so long. He’s been able to sustain excellence despite fierce competition and frequent injuries. The champ has also had to deal with something we all eventually have to face, aging.
Value the Process!
We all love the big win, but they don’t happen all that often. It’s easy to fall into the mental trap of failing to see the importance of the process and only valuing victory. In other words, only gaining satisfaction from winning without being willing to sacrifice during the process. Maintaining motivation long-term is difficult when you only have eyes on the victory and tend to overlook the small wins.
Champions who Play To Win do find value and inspiration in the process. They celebrate the small wins every day. As a result, they have a more positive outlook that improves performance. Harvard Business Review calls this the progress principle. Their research has found if people intentionally celebrate the small wins, it boosts their inner work life and increases productivity. A losing mindset overvalues the wins and undervalues the process required for victory. Federer was asked how he came back from surgery and a lengthy layoff. His response was, “enjoy every minute.” What that communicated to me was value the entire experience, including practice, training, discipline, and competition.
Find Your Sweet Spot!
Since I was born with three fingers I quickly realized that playing the piano was not my “sweet spot.” My life is not different from yours. No one can do everything well, but all of us have our own unique “sweet spot.” Winners spend little if any energy worrying about their weakness. Instead, they work on cultivating their strengths. I wasn’t able to choose my hands. Similarly, you cannot control your natural talents. Early in my life, I was so obsessed with what I could not do, my weakness became a handicap. Do not focus on the challenges you cannot change. Those will block your potential! When you work outside your sweet spot no matter how much effort you put forth you will likely achieve average success. Federer said, “play within yourself.” That’s another way of saying find and work within your sweet spot.
Winning feels awesome and lifts everyone’s mood, but losing can create the opposite emotions. People who win consistently understand they can’t win unless they believe in their own success. You win from the inside out. Therefore, victory begins with establishing a winner’s mindset. In victory or defeat, that person will find positive outcomes in their efforts. One thought I share with audiences is “emotion creates motion.” That message is one that means a positive mindset will give you the strength to bounce back after a setback. Emotions will dictate performance. Champions understand their choice of attitude is more important than the circumstances they face. Federer said, “I keep dreaming and believing. If you keep believing you can go far in life.”
That’s great advice for all of us on or off the tennis court. One of the greatest players ever reminds us that winners find solutions and losers find excuses. Never give up on yourself or your dreams! When we value the process, find our sweet spot and stay positive then anything is possible!