There is no way around the hard work. Embrace it. – Roger Federer
The above-mentioned quote aptly describes the personality of Federer who can rightly be termed as the greatest tennis player of all time. Sublime back-hands, deft volleys, pin-point accuracy for aces; one would run out of adjectives describing his game. He’s all class and has cemented his role as the greatest player by winning the 2017 Australian Open at the age of 35 years and 5 months.
See the amazing video of the winning moment below with Federer hitting the winner to register another win over his arch-rival, Rafael Nadal.
Playing tennis at the highest level for around 2 decades is a really challenging task. And add to that, the 18 grand slams wins and you get an athlete who knows how to manage the training, traveling around the world and playing the game like a dream. Any manager or team lead can learn a lot of lessons from the life of Mr. Roger Federer and in this blog, I will try to define 5 of them.
1. Never Fear the Failure
Roger Federer started playing as a professional tennis player in 1998. And won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon 2003. In the 5 years in between, he did have some success as a singles player most notably his first tournament win at the 2001 Milan Indore event. But the Grand Slam success eluded him for so long.
Players like Michael Chang and Pete Sampras against he played in his early days won Grand Slams before they turned 20. But he never took this matter as a failure and always tried to do even better.
Roger Federer, eventually, won the 2003 Wimbledon at the age 1 month shy of 22 years. If you are an aspiring manager in any field, you will find Federer’s ploy of working hard and never fearing failure as a motivation. A person can lose hope and can be very pessimistic in his approach if he tries too hard to avoid failure. To be successful, you have to give it all that you have with a positive mindset. There is no way you won’t achieve success by being fearless in your approach towards a task or project.
2. Turn Challenges into Opportunities
As a professional tennis player, Roger Federer came across many challenges, sometimes acute ones, which threatened his career too. When he withdrew from the US Open in 2016 at the last moment, many termed his decision as a prologue to his retirement with some Tennis pundits ruled out his comeback completely. But he came back and won the 2017 Australian Open in a heroic fashion and beat Rafael Nadal in a five-set thriller.
When you will work alongside the top management of any company, there will be challenges galore. If you want to be a great manager or leader, then you should know the art of turning challenges into opportunities. Never panic after a setback or while facing a difficult scenario. Instead, focus on how to aptly showcase your managing ability according to the situation and approach it as an opportunity to come up with a winning strategy.
3. Focus on your Strength
Roger Federer always focused on his strengths rather than copying a trend or trying to become someone else. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were on a roll when Federer started playing professional tennis. Then came serve and volley players like Greg Rusedski and Goran Ivanisevic and made it big.
Several new players adopted this strategy but Federer knew his strength and was sure that he can do well and achieve all the success by playing his natural game. And the rest is history.
As a budding manager or team lead, you will come across situations that will scare the hell out of you. But if you can learn about your strength and then making it count. It can act as the catalyst for your future success. You need to be confident and hide your emotions/viewpoint before chalking up a plan to cope up with an adverse situation. Just remember how Federer performed in tough situations by turning to his strengths and rest assured, you won’t taste failure ever again.
4. Work Harder to Achieve Success
Tennis is a very demanding game. The training, being on tour and playing continuously can be really tough if you are not physically fit. Roger Federer has been playing professional tennis for around 19 years now, and apart for brief pauses, he is among the fittest players the game has ever witnessed. So it’s natural he plays the game like a maverick and weaves his magic on the tennis courts around the world.
The real world is somewhat different from playing tennis and beating opponents hands down. You need to play smarter, faster and work harder to make sure you are one step ahead of the competition. A manager should always lead from the front. You need to work your way up the success ladder as there is no shortcut in real life too.
5. Be Flexible
There are three different surfaces in tennis in which a professional player has to play to maintain his rankings. These are hard court, clay and grass. Roger Federer proved that he can play like a veteran on the hard court and grass. It was the clay court or rather the French Open which eluded him until 2009. The flexibility to play at all surfaces is the key to becoming a great tennis player. Federer silenced his critics by showing his class on clay court, which was not his forte.
The flexibility approach in the professional life can be highly rewarding for a manager. He has to manage a team and always look for ways to improve teamwork. Flexibility is a key asset of successful managers. It can also be related to being flexible in many operational areas, dealing with different people/clients, etc.
Roger Federer is not over yet. And there’s no sign he will retire soon. It’s a good omen for his diehard fans and for sports lovers worldwide. Managers can learn valuable lessons from his life as a skillful tennis player but also a sports person par excellence. Management is a key part of being involved in any field and that’s where Roger Federer has really scored.