Why Every Entrepreneur Should Watch Tennis


[Image courtesy of PinkBlue / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Note: This post was written on the day Andy Murray won wimbledon, and was published today (2 months after) so read it with that in mind. :)

As many of you will have probably just watched. History has been made. Andy Murray, the runner up to Wimbledon last year and 2 time semi-finalist has just won the tournament, and after 77 years without a British champion, solidified himself as a Tennis legend.

Throughout the final match (and throughout the tournament) there were massive ups and some nail biting downs, but in the end – through hard work and some serious willpower, Andy Murray won.

I’ve been following Andy Murray since his first semi-final at Wimbledon and haven’t helped but notice the paralells with what it took for him to finally conquer the most formidable tournament in world tennis and what it takes for someone to become a successful entrepreneur. Traits such as learning to bounce back quickly from failure, which Tennis players do remarkably well and understanding and capitalizing on momentum when it comes your way. Even more fascinating is how some players, the best ones, create their own momentum using leverage, like pumping up the crowd to pump themselves up or changing up their style of play to capitalize on a weakness they have spotted in their opponents game during the match.

I think that watching and understanding the dynamics of Tennis has really upped my own game as an entrepreneur and allowed me to become more focused and determined.

Tennis shows you, live and in the flesh what it takes to win. The players have no hiding place and once they get on the court, it is all down to them – win or lose. The lessons that can be learned by watching this beautiful game are endless but i will focus on the key ones for me in this post.

You have probably heard or come across these lessons before but not had the chance to internalize them fully. My belief is that watching sport, Tennis in particular, helps you do this. Seeing real players embody these traits and use them to win again and again and again can really help to internalize them. Seeing these traits demonstrated solidifies the message in your mind in a way that no other sport really does, because you can follow individuals and see their progress. The dynamics and structure of Tennis also helps in making it unique.

Below i have listed 5 key lessons that have really solidified in my mind, watching Tennis over the last few years. I hope you can get the same boost from them as i have gotten and if you are not already a Tennis watcher, then i hope they get you into it!

1. Failure is inevitable, but part of the process

Early Andy Murray matches were quite frustrating to watch as a Tennis fan. He used to waste so much energy when he made mistake that it was obvious that it was affecting his game. It has only been with a more relaxed attitude in his relationship with his failures and mistakes that he has seen a drastic increase in his game. As was proven with his incredible olympic gold and silver medal wins just days after losing the Wimbledon final.

For an entrepreneur, failure is an everyday occurrence. Just like a double fault on a serve, as an entrepreneur you will have people ignore you, new designs go wrong and have ‘sure-thing’ opportunities go the other way. The key thing here is learning how to accept it as part of the process and bouncing back from it to get back in the game. Because at the end of the day, positive and proactive forward motion is the only thing that matters.

2. You haven’t won until you’ve WON

Many times i have watched matches where players who have been 2 sets up and seemed certain to win, have suddenly lost momentum and ended up losing the game.

Entrepreneurship is a marathon littered with occasional sprints just like Tennis, and just like Tennis, the momentum can shift at any time. You have to be committed and always focused until you really win, which is an ambiguous statement in entrepreneurship, i know.

No business ever completely ‘wins’. But every entrepreneur has that point at which they can say “i’ve done it”, even if only temporarily. Because we all know how eternally unsatisfied we can be as entrepreneurs.

3. There is nothing more important than concentration

Tennis is all about concentration. Every stroke of the racquet could be in or out, depending on how the player is. Entrepreneurship is the same.

We’re seeing this more and more everyday.

The emergence of techniques like A/B testing and on-page optimisation have shown us that small changes in your business can have a massive effect. Being focused enough to notice the details, and make the necessary changes is paramount. And with more and more people becoming detail oriented because of these developments, focus in your own business has never been more important.

4. The big moments come from the small moments

Forgetting about the hours of tedious training the Tennis players have to go through to be at the top of their game. The actual matches of Tennis are combinations of many small moments that lead up to, and create the big ones. The player has to become a master of the small moment.

Entrepreneurs, especially ones who are just starting out. Often forget that it takes many small and often extremely tedious efforts to get to the big moments like a press mention, an acquisition or even with some businesses – that magical ‘first sale’.

Recognising the importance in accepting and doing the small things that need to be done, in a disciplined and consistent way has been the most important thing i have learned in the last few years.

5. Knowing that you can’t do it alone

Andy Murray has done a lot to improve his game and get to where he is now, and there are many things that i would attribute to his success. But if there was one thing that i had to put my finger on and say, ‘yeah, that’s what did it’, i’d have to say that it has been the introduction of his new coach Ivan Lendl to his team.

Before Lendl, Murray had only ever managed to reach the semi final of Wimbledon. Despite his best effort there just always seemed to be ‘something’ missing.

When Lendl came into the picture, everything changed.

Lendl was able to find what Murray was missing and fill in the gap. This allowed Murray to not only reach the finals, but eventually, as we have all just seen – actually win it.

As Entrepreneurs we are often tempted to try and do it all ourselves or think that we know it all. But success, in my experience, never comes this way.

Just like Murray, you may go far for a time, as he did in getting to the semi finals, but you will always have something missing. It is only by aligning yourself with others, who will be able to fill in your ‘gaps’, that you will be able to reach your full potential. This does not necessarily mean having co-founders, but that you should know your weaknesses and instead of trying to DIY it all, find people who can help you out.

Watch one game to test out my thesis

Observing Tennis has taught me a lot, not just about entrepreneurship, but about life too, as all of these lessons can be applied to just about anything. They, in my opinion, are eternal. And if they are internalised and applied in your life, they can bring you all the success you want.

Why don’t you give watching Tennis a try, and see if you can get as much inspiration out of it as i have.

BY : Tapha Ngum | CATEGORY : Entrepreneurship |CATEGORY SLUG: entrepreneurship | Date : 5 September, 2013 | Tags :

4 Responses to “Why Every Entrepreneur Should Watch Tennis”

  1. Jose says:

    Thanks for writing this. I’ve been down about a recent failure and I needed to remember that this is an opportunity for me to bounce back. Cheers!