Serena Williams is arguably the best female tennis player of all time; heck she may challenge Roger Federer as the greatest tennis player of either gender. She lost the US Open Championship on Saturday in what became a highly chaotic and confrontational scene involving Williams and the head judge.
What isn’t up for debate is that Naomi Osaka, her 20-year old Japanese competitor, completely outplayed her and won the match in two sets. It was a historic victory, the first ever Grand Slam Championship by a Japanese player.
The decidedly pro-Serena fans in New York voiced their displeasure during and after the match. The travesty is that they actually booed when Osaka was introduced as the champion, bringing this young champion to tears. What should have been a crowning event for the 20-year old was turning into humiliation. That’s when Serena showed why she’s also a champion as a human.
She graciously put her arm around Osaka’s shoulders when it was clear that she was being overwhelmed by the scene. She then took the microphone and implored the fans to stop the booing and give this young lady her time on the platform as a champion.
It’s a reminder to all of us that dealing with adversity with empathy and humanity is a trait of strong leadership. It’s a rare individual than can take a moment to consider someone other than self. Sometimes its forgiveness; other times it’s understanding; still other times it’s compassion and kindness.
Leadership begins with empathy and a genuine sense of how others are being affected; and continues with acts of compassion and kindness to help someone at the moment they need it most. On Saturday, that was a win for Serena Williams.
Quote of the Week:
”Obstacles are things a person sees when they take their eyes off their goal.”
I enjoy watching professional sports on television, not only for the pure enjoyment of the sport, but for the great parallels and lessons it teaches us. Last weekend’s Wimbledon Tennis Championship is an excellent example.
In the Women’s Championship match between Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska, Williams found herself in a precarious situation. She had easily won the first set, stumbled in the second, and now had lost focus in the third and decisive set. Down 2 games to 1 and serving, Williams decided to just focus on her strength…her serve. Throughout the tournament, she lapped the field in aces. In this pivotal game, she served up 4 straight aces. Radwanska never recovered and Serena cruised to her 5th Wimbledon title.
How often do we get caught up in minutia and lose focus? How many times do events derail us and we panic or lose direction? In my experience, the answer is too many. In a world where we desire self-help books and looking to improve our weaknesses, we should instead focus on our strengths.
Athletes over-think in pressure situations. The true champions actually turn pressure into an ally by simplifying the situation and going with what got them there. For Serena Williams, it was her dominant serve. What is it for you?
Where do your strengths lie and what can you do to enhance them? Your focus should be on making what you do really well even better. Don’t spend time and effort on weaknesses. Delegate, subcontract, or simply don’t worry about them.
As an example, one of my strengths is public speaking. One of my weaknesses is setting up and organizing speaking events. So, my focus is on making myself a better speaker. I like it and it’s what I’m good at. I hate making arrangements and doing the heavy lifting of administration. I delegate this to my assistant who likes to do it and it’s her strength. This produces a win-win situation.
Your time is valuable and finite. Your energy level and passion needs to be focused and strong. You can only be passionate about what you like and what you’re good at. Build on your strengths. It will come up aces for you!
Tiger Woods is arguably the most skilled golfer of all time. At the writing of this article, he won for only the second time since his infamous personal meltdown brought him back to earth. Regardless of his personal behaviors and choices, there is no doubt that for a period of a dozen years, he was not only the best golfer on the planet; he was the best at his craft in the entertainment industry (athletes, actors, singers, etc). And, Tiger Woods had a coach.
The fact is that Woods and other top line professional athletes like Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Serena Williams having coaches, goes unnoticed and with no fanfare. It’s a given. Singers have voice coaches. Actors have acting coaches. Dancers employ coaches. Coaches and mentors are considered essential to develop skills and accelerate growth and development.
Let’s take a closer look at Tiger Woods and what coaching has done to enhance and accelerate his career…
Shortly after Woods won his first Masters title by a landslide, he went about developing a new swing. He hired a new coach and set the wheels in motion to “reinvent” his swing and his game. Fans and analysts thought he was crazy? Why fix something that is so not broken? The end result is that Woods became even more dominant and more consistent. The coaching had vaulted him past being really good and into legendary status.
After Tiger’s personal life fell apart in front of the world and injuries forced him to miss needed practice time and rounds, he set out again to “reinvent” himself again. Armed with new coaching, he set the stage to work on his game. After his recent win and momentum, he may be nearing the lofty heights he had set for himself. The only way he could get there was with a coach honing his enormous skill; holding him accountable; and offering new strategy and technique for his age and physical limitations.
In business, the top executives and “rainmakers” all use coaches. Why? For the same reasons that athletes, actors, and dancers do. To challenge, motivate, cajole, and improve their craft. The irony is that the top 1% of income producers use executive coaches and mentors like Marshall Goldsmith, Patricia Fripp, and Alan Weiss; while the vast majority of professionals who struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis don’t invest in themselves through coaching.
You can’t be brilliant by yourself. Athletes and other celebrity from the entertainment world have always known this. Kobe Bryant employs five new coaches every summer to help him improve his game, even after multiple world championship rings and Most Valuable Player trophies. Woods has hired new coaches to hone his game in an effort to return to the greatness he once had. Both Bryant and Woods know that no matter the length of time you have in the “game,” you are never too old or experienced to learn. In fact, it’s those that are most ready to learn new things and be “coachable” that continue to get the most out of their talent. The most effective rainmakers in the insurance industry are beating the tar out of their competition because they use coaches and mentors.
Here are 5 reasons you need to consider using a coach…
1. Skill development. In sales, your skill set needs to include powerful use of language, visioning, overcoming objections, and fighting through gatekeepers, to name a few. The solutions are not always evident and a strong coach will guide you through strategies to create and enhance these skills. Practicing conversations and interactions is a lost art among most insurance pros. In my experience, the majority just “wing it.” Coaching will speed up the success rate of these communications and deliver quicker results.
2. Feedback. When I coached high school basketball, my teams and I would watch game film. The video never lied. My feedback to them was invaluable because I would point out areas of weakness and areas of strength to work on. How do you know you did something well (or not) without an objective voice?
3. Feed Forward. Executive coaching guru Marshall Goldsmith coined a concept called “Feed Forward.” Feed forward is about creating solutions in the future and forgetting the past failures. Once we’ve acknowledged our mistakes, then coaches provide constructive “to do” strategies to hasten development. Feed forward comes from observation and compelling questioning that peels away at the onion to reveal real barriers to progress. This can only be accomplished with a trusted coach.
4. Sounding board. Sometimes you just need to let off steam. You need an ear to vent to; someone to simply listen. In most cases, bosses, sales managers, and spouses are not good options for this. A coach is a safe place to vent anger and frustration; as well as a place to celebrate successes.
5. Accountability. From den mothers to drill sergeants; teachers to athletic coaches; parents to pastors; we’ve all had someone keep us accountable. In your business life today, it’s harder than ever to find that accountability partner. A coach takes on that role and without baggage or excuses, holds you to the things you know you need to do to be successful. As with a sounding board, those other important people in your life are often ill equipped to objectively be that person; or will let you off the hook too easily.
You can’t be brilliant by yourself. Everyone needs a coach. In the entertainment world, coaches are often less skilled than their mentorees; yet have a unique ability to ignite their talent and get them to perform at their maximum capability. Coaches in business elevate their mentorees to the same level of success and help them thrive personally and professionally. Not employing that kind of help is not only foolish, but also selfish. Think of all those who could be helped, yet never will.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and be coached takes immense self-confidence. The financial and time investments are usually dwarfed by the return of increased revenues, more discretionary time, and improved life balance.
Tiger Woods utilized coaches that ranged from his own father during his childhood; to his coaches at Stanford; to multiple big name golf coaches like Butch Harmon and Hank Haney. If a guy like Tiger Woods, who may be one of the greatest competitors of all time, can be coached, why wouldn’t you?
The reality is that insurance professionals, who overlook being coached because they think they can do it on their own, usually never reach the apex of their talents and thus fail to earn the income and life they could have realized. Those insurance pros that accept the challenge of being coached will reach greater heights in their career and enjoy the fruits of that success both professionally and personally.
The first tee is right this way. Are you ready to play?