The foundation for making changes in your life, creating new habits, fulfilling dreams, being successful, begins with *believing in yourself*. Whatever you believe about yourself, your life, your abilities, your dreams, you are right; what you believe you most likely end up becoming. If you really believe you can´t be or do something, this almost certainly comes true because when we say we can´t, we rarely even bother to try and give it a go.
Athletes are inspiring using both their mind and body to overcome obstacles, injuries, opponents, weather conditions, negative thoughts…the list goes on. Many lessons for life can be learnt from athletes. Here are a few examples from this year´s Wimbledon 2012, which seemed to be the year for the underdog, many surprises and even fairytale endings.
In round two at Wimbledon this year, Rafael Nadal ranked World Number Two at the time played against his opponent Lukas Rosol ranked World Number 100: both 26 years of age with Nadal winning 50 singles titles and 11 grand slams already and Rosol yet to make a title. Rosol was coming into this match as the underdog and most people´s assumptions would be that Nadal would win the match; no doubt we would enjoy great shots from both players after all this is professional tennis at a World Class level. However, the match turns out to be the greatest shock of the competition and a fantastic game going to five sets. The underdog matched his competitor point for point, set for set with great confidence, shots, mental and physical agility that was breath taking and mesmerizing at times. Even the commentator of the match said in over 39 years he has never seen someone hit that hard and consistently; Rosol served 4 aces in the last game to win the match! He had nerves of steel. The question is what makes someone successful?
Lesson: Define your own success
We are all on different life paths with our own unique skills, abilities, obstacles, ups and downs. We will all achieve things at different rates, different times in our life and we will all encounter difficulties at different junctions in our life. We can´t let ourselves, others or society determine what is successful for us. We also can´t allow ourselves, others or society to say when or whether we will ever achieve our goals and dreams; that is up to us, opportunities that arise, and how we choose to perceive our life stories.
Really we are looking at two successful tennis players, both playing at world class level. Both playing consistent tennis, albeit with different results: Nadal consistently staying within the top 5, consistently winning titles and grand slams like the French Open; Rosol is also playing consistently maintaining a successful career as a professional tennis player travelling all around the world. They are also both incredibly passionate about tennis. When you follow your heart, your joy path, your passions, the journey becomes the dream, not the destination.
Just because you might have had difficulties and set-backs in the past, doesn´t mean that with intention, perseverance, resilience, and belief in yourself that you can´t still go on and become who you want to become. Your past is not your future. It´s what you do consistently in the present moment that leads to your future present conditions and outcomes and these can always be altered bit by bit, moment by moment in the present.
All great achievements require time.
From Illness to Fighting Fit
Serena Williams came back from a serious illness and surgery, due to a blood clot on her lung and two foot surgeries, to win and equal her sister Venus´ record of five tournament wins at Wimbledon. She is only the second woman ever after Martina Navratilova to win the grand slam in her 30´s. Many critics were wondering if she would ever get back to playing professional tennis again, let alone start winning titles. But she proved every one wrong by sheer hard work, guts, and determination to win at Wimbledon yet again. Never give up!!! You just never know what you will achieve until you try. Again tennis is her passion and what she knows she is good at; follow your joy path and focus on your strengths and unique abilities that you bring to this world.
Venus Williams was only recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and although she got knocked out in the first round of the women’s singles, she went on to win the doubles with her sister Serena Williams despite her illness. She is taking a positive attitude to her situation by adapting to the symptoms of her illness whilst not allowing it to dictate her life or dreams.
Lesson: You can believe the diagnosis, but not the prognosis
In other words, it is important to be self-aware of your current situation even if it looks bad or not exactly how you want your life to look, but you then need to look beyond what is and have faith of a future for yourself based on your intentions and life purpose. This means being aware of any current obstacles, adapting and changing what´s necessary, little by little in order to live the life you want and be the person you want to become. Until we try and exhaust all possibilities and creatively invent new ways to progress forward, we will never know our true potential.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. ~ Steve Jobs
Jonathon Marray and Frederik Nielsen fairytale story begins by gaining entry into the tournament on a wild card, as neither are ranked high enough to play the larger tournaments, and they end up winning the men´s doubles tournament beating along the way high seeded players and former Wimbledon Champions the Bryan brothers – the formidable doubles players on the tour.
It´s a story no one could have predicted. Marray at age 31 has toiled away for years perfecting his tennis and scraping by a living playing second-tier events. Eventually all his hard work and perseverance pays off as he becomes the second British man to win at Wimbledon. For Nielsen, he becomes the first ever Danish player to win at the tournament. Tennis holds a history with the Nielsen family as his grandfather Kurt lost two singles finals here. Nielsen has made his family and country very proud with a surprise but well-deserved win in the final.
Lesson: Believe in yourself and your dreams
Sometimes our dreams just look like they won´t come true, the mountain seems too high to climb, too many difficulties lie in the way. The truth is, it´s the story we tell ourselves about our circumstances that can have a huge impact on whether we keep fighting for our dreams or just give up. In the book “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky, she highlights empirical research to demonstrate the effect of attitude on our lives, even in circumstances that seem out of our control, with women fighting infertility that it is the women with the positive attitude and problem solving skills that end up one way or the other having a child. By positive attitude, I don´t mean living in denial or just telling yourself it will happen like an affirmation, over and over again. It means facing the truth of the moment and using that to problem solve a multitude of ways to overcome any hurdles or weaknesses. This doesn´t necessarily mean that all your dreams will come true but it means that you give it a go anyway and accept what happens knowing that you gave your all and did your best.
Marray and Nielsen took the risk of entering the competition not knowing if they would even qualify for the event and even after doing so, no one was betting on them winning here, let alone getting passed the first round. Until you open your heart and try, you´ll never know what could be. Even if it doesn´t work out like you hoped, enjoy the process, follow your heart and enjoy the ride. At the very least you will learn and grow from the experience.
Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.
— Mae Jemison
Andy Murray British number one and fourth in the world, his fourth grand slam final and he is criticised by the press for not having won a grand slam title yet and having never won a set in a grand slam final. Despite this he progressed and won his first set against arguably one of the best players ever and a six time winner of the Wimbledon Championship Roger Federer; Murray also looked like a contender and put up a great fight to try and win the tournament. Despite not winning the final, he is still a winner because it´s about the journey, not the destination; he had all his family supporting him and made a very moving speech which had all his supporters and fans in tears with him, he really connected with the public. Federer achieved a great win again, he played at times genius shots; in a way he was the underdog too proving his critics wrong that at the almost (old) age of 31 he wasn´t too old to win a grand slam title again. Not only did he win the tournament but he also equalled the record of his tennis idol Pete Sampras with seven Wimbledon titles!
A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.
We turn not older with years, but newer every day.
— Emily Dickinson
During the Olympics 2012 in London, Andy Murray managed to reach the finals with another head on head with Roger Federer. Only a few weeks since Murray´s disappointing loss at Wimbledon, he faced the same opponent but this time Murray progresses further by winning in a straight three set victory. How many times do you let failure stop you from trying again?
Lesson: Listen to your inner wisdom
Your heart is where your inner wisdom lies and it knows better than anyone what you can accomplish and what you should follow with all your heart. There will always be naysayers and jealous people willing you to fail, trying to stop you from rising high where you belong. You need to connect within and listen to what your heart is guiding you to. It took Murray many finals and losses to finally gain a straight set victory over one of the best players ever seen in men´s tennis. Most predicted a Federer Gold win over Murray – they were wrong, but only because of one reason: Andy Murray believed in himself. Of course it takes more than just believing to achieve but it is the foundation of which you build your hard work, skills and dreams on. Every success has metamorphosed from failure – it is unavoidable. This is where most stumble and stay down. It takes courage to keep going, especially when others may be laughing or trying to keep you down. No one achieved anything without having fear, it´s just they do it anyway. When you walk through fear, courage will meet you at the door and your open heart will guide you.
Remember, I believe in you, but you also need to *believe in yourself* too.
Enjoy the journey, your joy path.