Friday, February 22, 2019

Ageless wisdom from Novak Djokovic's victory speech

This week Novak Djokovic won the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year. He made a stunning comeback in 2018 by winning 3 out of 4 grand slam events. His 2017 rankings had plummeted to 12, which is not bad by any standards but below par for a man who has been ranked in top 3 in world tennis since 2007.

He gave a remarkable speech after winning the award. His ~4:30 minute speech can be found here.

I found the speech quite relatable, authentic and without any airs. Novak appeared completely vulnerable yet grace personified. In other words, Novak appeared entirely human almost distinct from his super-human image of a person who has a machine-like consistency and is almost unbeatable on tennis court.

Reflection #1:
Novak said, I live by philosophy: "Expect Nothing"

Steven Covey shared these ageless lines 'Begin with the end in mind'. Most of us humans- in pursuit of something big, are always driven by an end-goal in mind. There is nothing wrong in having an
end-goal, infact we all should have one. But the problem happens if we let our minds get dominated and bogged-down by the distracting thoughts about what will happen if we achieve the end-goal.
'Expect Nothing' philosophy releases the unnecessary pressure that we put ourselves in pursuit of extravagant outcomes. It also prepares us well for the eventuality in case the outcome is not achieved. Detaching oneself with the fruits of the outcome can help our minds focus sharply. Eventually, its a choice: a mind loaded under the weight of our own expectations works much less efficiently than a free mind that expects nothing but excellence in what is being done at that moment.

Reflection #2:
Journey is the destination

Novak said, 'In Roland Garros 2016, when i achieved the ultimate goal in tennis to hold all 4 slams at the same time- I felt a huge relief. I did not feel the fulfillment to be honest. I tried to understand why. I think it was because i didn't leave the process, the journey as much as i needed and wanted that destination. When i reached the goal, i realized that the goal would be nothing without that journey. Then i understood the concept and philosophy of life of being present and being in the now  because that's where the power lies.'

It recall a phrase from Geet Sethi's  book 'Success vs Joy' where he says, concentration is simply remaining in the present. Probably one of the most effective definitions of concentration and focus that i found. Novak's realization after winning all 4 slams really makes us wonder about one of the most underrated, yet most effective but most difficult to master human trait 'Staying in the present'.

I am also reminded of story (i think from Steve Waugh's biography). Before 1999 World cup, Australian Cricket captain Steve Waugh's address to his team said that no matter what the outcome of this world cup would be, i would like you to take this as 'No regrets' tour.
What he was alluding to was that irrespective of the outcome of the tour, none of the team members should have a iota of regret that they could have delivered better efforts, could have shown-up more.
In summary, he was hinting to his team to enjoy the journey, stick to the processes that made them successful thus far and expect just the high quality effort but not the shiny world-cup as an outcome.

Since they managed to stay in this zone day-in and day-out, Australia were able to lift not only 1999 world cup, but also 2003 and 2007. They were virtually unbeaten in world cup for more than a decade before being beaten by India in 2011 world cup quarter-finals.
This is what 'Expect nothing' and 'Journey is the destination' does to you!

(update on 25th-Feb)
A couple of days back Saurabh Chaudhary, a 16 year old shooter from India created history by winning senior world cup gold in 10m air pistol. Saurabh not just won the gold medal but completely dominated the field with a huge lead of 5.7 points and bettered the world record by more than 1 point. Such margins are unheard of in a sport of shooting.

Saurabh comments post this victory-
'There was a little pressure of playing in the senior's final, but I did what my coach had asked me to do. He said 'shoot as you do in practice' and I did that. I never thought about the record or quota place. I didn't even look at the monitor to check my competitor's scores during the final.' 

What Saurabh achieved is remarkable and it won it Olympics quota. If we dissect his comments, there is a clear indication that he detached himself from the eventual outcome. It is evident when he says he never thought about record or did he check his competitor's scores. All he did was achieving self-mastery and remained firmly rooted in the moment, on the ground. In short, he expected nothing, just nothing. But this thinking helped him achieved all that was on platter- the gold medal, a world record and Olympic quota place.

Image source:

#expectnothing #noregrets #journeyisthedestination #focus #concentration

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