Dig deeper

-

If, last week, you read Mapping the year ahead, we are travelling together on the Innerzela train and by now you have set your goal(s) for this year. If you did not, you may have been keeping your goals in a drawer for a long time now.

It is time to open it, select the one that has the most meaning for you and commit. You will either be excited about the year ahead or be filled with apprehension about the commitment you have made.

Some of you are saying: What have I done? As the saying goes, however, your present circumstances dont determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.

Starting is probably the most difficult thing for people who have settled on a goal. Rafael Nadal is a tennis great who I have written about before. There have been many greats before him, notably Federer, and there will be many more.

The new great is Novak Djokovic and here is what he had to say after successfully defending his Aussie Open title after a marathon five-hour-fifty-three-minute battle.

Here is what he said after the match to show his determination to achieve victory: Youre in pain, youre suffering, you know that youre trying to activate your legs, youre trying to push yourself another point, just one more point, one more game.

That is the essence of digging deep. One more step, just another step. I will not go into any Chinese proverbs but it is true what they say about that first step leading to a thousand miles. Your goal is your thousand miles.

Since we are talking tennis, let me share one of my favourite tennis stories, that of losing womens finalist at the just-ended Aussie Open, Mari Sharapova. An excerpt from Wikipedia to illustrate just how long her journey has been.

Maria Sharapovas parents, Yuri and Yelena, are from Gomel, Belarus. Concerned about the regional effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, they left their homeland shortly before Sharapova was born. When Sharapova was two, the family moved to Sochi.

There her father befriended Aleksandr Kafelnikov, whose son Yevgeny would go on to win two Grand Slam singles titles and became Russias first no 1 world-ranked tennis player. Aleksandr gave Sharapova her first tennis racket at the age of four, whereupon she began practising regularly with her father at a local park.

She took her first tennis lessons with veteran Russian coach Yuri Yutkin, who was instantly impressed when he saw her play, noting her exceptional hand-eye co-ordination.

At the age of seven, Sharapova attended a tennis clinic in Moscow run by Martina Navratilova, who recommended professional training at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, which had previously trained players such as Andr Agassi, Monica Seles and Anna Kournikova.

With money tight, Yuri was forced to borrow the sum that would allow him and his daughter, neither of whom could speak English, to travel to United States, which they finally did in 1994. Visa restrictions prevented Sharapovas mother from joining them for two years.

Arriving in Florida with savings of $700, Sharapovas father took various low-paying jobs, including dish-washing, to fund her lessons until she was old enough to be admitted to the academy. In 1995, she was signed by IMG, who agreed to pay the annual tuition fee of $35 000 for Sharapova to stay at the academy, allowing her to finally enrol at the age of 9.

Now that is incredible commitment by the father. Most parents pay school fess and hope for the best! I paid your fees, my job is done! By age 17, Sharapova had won Wimbledon beating red-hot favourite Serena Williams in what was referred to as the most stunning upset in memory.

Whether we talk about Nadal, Seles, Navratilova, Djokovich or Borg, your example of commitment is the one that best moves you to action. One way to be moved is to read about people you admire or watch them featured on The History Channel. Now some of you will raise the talent argument. My response is yet another quote: All kids are gifted; some just open their packages earlier than others.

You have the package. To begin to unwrap it, you will need, like Sharapova, to pick up the tennis racket that represents your goal and go and start hitting some balls on the court.

Then you need to dig a little deeper each time you fall, bruise your knee, lose a rally or need to rehydrate. I do not know of any tennis champion who does not have a coach or mentor. The former is a professional and you will need to seek out suct people

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading