Monday, September 14, 2009

Two Lessons From The US Open

I've been watching way more tennis than usual. Shira has been enjoying the US Open, and for big chunks of it, I've been staring at the TV set by her side. As such, I couldn't help but observe the drama and come away with a few lessons for myself.

Handling The No Win Situation

The whole rise of Melanie Oudin was remarkable. But that final game of hers wasn't as easy to watch. In the end, she was not a happy camper, as her amazing run came to a close with somewhat embarrassingly quick loss.

And who could blame her? She clearly had her nerves to contend with. And who likes to lose, much less get trounced?

With the benefit of hindsight, I think she may have had better success if she had considered changing her goal. What if she decided she wasn't planning on winning. What if she decided she wanted to score X number of points, or win a single set, or maybe just go out and have a good time?

It was easy to get caught up in the hope that she'd perform a miracle and beat Wozniacki. But the reality is, that wasn't going to happen. Maybe with time and practice she'll be #1, but she was the long shot hopeful for a reason.

So the lesson I take away is this: when the odds are impossible, change the game. Pick goals you can succeed at, and find joy in that.

It's Never Too Soon To Rewrite History

I watched Serana William's now famous outburst with the same confusion and amazement as everyone else. Man, did she lose it. And in doing so, it cost her game, set, match and tournament. Youch.

But, what I found truly interesting - and educational, was that (a) she thanked her opponent on the court and wish her good luck, and (b) managed to carry on an amazingly upbeat post-match press conference.

Within minutes of completely losing it, she was back to being positive - talking about learning lessons and how her opponent won because she outplayed her. When a reporter dangled an excuse about the weather in front of her as the cause of the outburst, she told him that was ridiculous.

Like most people, I'm a bit disappointed that she never really said "I'm sorry - I screwed up." Instead, we've gotten the classic apology-like statements we're so used to seeing in politics.

But still, having the discipline to go from being 100% of the rails, to having on your teaching-moment face is quite something else. The lesson I take away here is that this is something that you have to work at, and commit to. And even if inwardly you aren't ready to come to acceptance (you're probably still stuck in anger), outwardly it pays to do it.

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