Winning Ugly: The Three R’s

No, I don’t mean reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. I’m referring to Brad Gilbert’s keys to “Winning Ugly,” a book about tennis. Yes, tennis. Brad is best known for being a scrappy player who went on to become Andre Agassi’s coach and is now an ESPN tennis commentator.

I’ve always believed that sports can offer valuable lessons for succeeding in life and the business world. But the best thing about sports is most players will get to learn by failing many times. Even the very best tennis players will lose points in a game, or games in a set before winning a match. What distinguishes champions from average players is how they handle those mini-losses and make adjustments.

The three R’s that Brad Gilbert discusses in his book are meant to be practiced after every point played, regardless of whether you won or lost that point…

Release: Let your emotions out so you’re not thinking about the last point too long. It’s done, let it go.

• Review: Reflect briefly on what you did, and make a mental adjustment.

• Reset: Focus on now. Play one point at a time. Concentrate on the positive things you CAN do. Don’t dwell on prior mistakes.

Yet we have all had “bad” days when even those steps don’t seem to help our game. So what do you do then?

Well, cheat… okay, you shouldn’t actually cheat. Sometimes though, you have to get into your opponent’s head by doing the unexpected. For instance, I’m not a serve-and-volley type player — however, when my groundstrokes are sailing long or I’m mishitting a lot of balls from the baseline, I’ll start coming to the net just to get my feet moving. I often will blow easy volleys, but I find that if I put just one shot away it can change my mindset.

So if your job hunt is not going well, or your business is struggling, take a tip from Brad: release… review… reset. Then do something different or unexpected to change things up. You might just surprise yourself!

Today’s sports-related link: David Brooks, a conservative NY Times columnist, has an interesting piece about the role of sports in ethics training. He discusses an essay by a Duke professor that traces the evolution of sports from the Greeks (individual athletic feats) to Romans (state-sponsored spectacles, Lions vs. Christians blood matches) and the British tradition (civilized team play emphasizing sportsmanship). Prof. Gillespie says big-time college sports have reverted back to the Roman model. What do you think?

Here’s the article link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/opinion/05brooks.html?emc=eta1

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