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Great lesson about motivation
on 19 March 2014
The Williams' sister story is exemplary. Their father was not rich, he did not know how to play tennis and the two sisters were not even born. Yet he imagined a plan where he will have two more girls who will become tennis world number one. He wrote it and implemented it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I marveled at this incredible story of faith. I also enjoyed peering inside Serena Williams' psyche and drive. In this book, this is what I have learned about motivation:
1. Plan, set your goals and work intensely at convincing yourself:
Serena Williams use all techniques available like affirmations or visualizations. She forces herself to think positively and avoid negative feelings.
She shares the contents of numerous post-its she sticks on her tennis bag. One of them reads: "Be positive. Have only positivity going through your body. Be the best. Being the best starts by acting like U R the best. Believing U R the best. Becoming the best. Believe. Become. "
She also writes: "I kept telling and telling myself until I finally believed it."
2. Master "doublethink":
In a tennis game, there is only one winner. Yet, at the highest level, it is likely that both players have worked on their belief system and conditioned themselves to win. How do you continue to believe while reality clashes with your beliefs ? In his book "Bounce", Matthew Syed introduces the concept of "doublethink" or "the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them." He explains that "top performers have taught themselves to ratchet up their optimism at the point of performance, to mould the evidence to fit their beliefs rather than the other way around." In other words, on the court, you need to believe wholeheartedly that you will win. In training, you need to look at your game with lucidity to improve any weaknesses.
3. Ground yourself:
It is not a secret that Serena Williams benefits from a supporting family base. Reading Serena's biography, it goes even further. At important time in her life, she found motivation in a higher purpose. She relates her trip to West Africa and her visits of the slave castles. "I came away thinking I was part of the strongest race in human history". And follows a new post-it: "Just do it. U want / NEED to win. Nothing is too hard for U. Nothing is too tough for U. It's U and only U !!! U R part of the strongest people alive. Nothing is worse than what your grandparents and great-grandparents went through. Nothing is more difficult. Nothing. Get up, get out and make yourself / your people happy and proud !"
4. Welcome difficulties:
Serena seems to thrive on challenges. She uses past failures to re-energize herself.
Serena Williams used all the negativity at the Australian open in 2009 to fuel her will to win. "The real push came from taking all those negatives and mashing them together into a great big positive. I put in my head that I would not be beaten down. By my critics. By my peers. By my sponsors. By my opponents. Together, it became my silent fuel, to power me through these next paces. I would not be dismissed. I would prove everyone wrong, and in so doing I would prove something to myself."