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Lessons Learned From the G.O.A.T.

Something about me that many people don’t know is that I constantly look for life lessons and inspiration from other peoples challenges, struggles and victories.  I’ve found that when you live this way, every once in a while you find something pretty amazing being lived out right in front of you.  I want to share one with you that has impacted me this week.

Tennis fan or not, you’ve likely heard the name Roger Federer.  Federer, or “Fed” as he is often called, is according to most experts the greatest tennis player to ever play the game.  

Fed came onto the scene big in 2003, where at age 22 he won his first major tennis tournament defeating Marc Philippoussis in straight sets at the sports most famous court, Wimbledon.  From there he went on to win one major tournament after another, absolutely dominating the sport for nearly 7 years.

By 2010, he had broken Pete Sampras’ record of 14 major tournament victories, and he was playing what many would call “superhuman” tennis.  On top of that, Fed was making ridiculous sums of money loaning out the use of his name, endorsing various products and of course winning championship purses.  Life was indeed very good to Roger.

Maybe at this point the success, the fame, the money, the intensity of the competition or something else got to Fed, because it was from this point on that he really started showing signs of weakness.

From 2010 to 2016 Fed only won 1 major tournament.  Some thought he was too old, some thought he wasn’t hungry enough and some thought that there was simply better talent out there that he couldn’t match.  The downward spiral seemed to climax with a serious knee injury and a tough loss at Wimbledon in 2016.  Afterwards, Fed decided to take 6 months off from competing to get himself straight.

I wonder what he thought while he was on sabbatical.  If it was me, I know I’d have thoughts like these running through my head daily…

who cares if I win another one?  I’ve already beaten the all time record.  Nobody would ever dispute that I was one of, if not the greatest tennis player of all time, even if I retired now. Why not just take it easy from now on?  I’ve earned it.” 

Even if he did battle thoughts like those, that’s not what Fed did.  He came back and he came back with vengeance.  Earlier this year Fed won a long, hard championship match against his arch nemesis Raphael Nadal, whom he hadn’t beaten in a major tournament since 2007.   After that, just this month, Fed dominated his competition at Wimbledon and won the title with a flawless set record throughout the entire tournament.  Wow.

To say that Rogers comeback, at 36 years old, was anything short of miraculous would be an understatement.  And to do it when he really didn’t “have” to, is equally amazing.

Now, of course neither of us are elite tennis players making multi-millions of dollars but I’m willing to bet that you, like Fed and like me, have had at least one thing lately that you’ve thought about giving up on. One thing that you feel if you quit, it would be OK because you did well enough already.

I want to tell you something that Roger Federer’s story is telling to me, don’t settle for anything less than your full potential.  

Roger’s story says to me that there will be things in life that we feel we’ve “won” at.  There will be things we feel we have proven ourselves in.  There will be things we feel comfortable in because of all we’ve already achieved.  The challenge is pushing beyond these comfortable places to unlock the full measure of greatness that is inside of us.  This is where true champions are born.

The great athletes, influencers, innovators and pioneers of all types knew this and even though we aren’t inventing the light bulb, freeing the slaves or playing at Wimbledon, it doesn’t mean that what we do doesn’t matter.  It does matter. If for no other reason than because it can inspire someone, just like Fed’s refusal to settle inspired me.

So my challenge to you today, is the same as the challenge I’m putting to myself- to ruthlessly eliminate the desire to settle when there is untapped potential in your life.

But how do we keep pressing on, despite the desire to give up?  I’ll leave you with a quote from the G.O.A.T. himself that sums up the champions mindset-

“I think I am..able to compress all my energy into one single match and not be distracted by everything else going on around me.”

Keep your focus and your energy on each “match” and before you know it, your victories will keep piling up and you’ll be glad that someone pushed you not to settle.

Your partner on the journey,

 Chris Vercelli  MATm, CPT

Founder: Non-Fiction Fitness

P.S. For more inspiration, check out these 2017 victory speeches by Fed.  Click the links below to watch them.

Australian Open Victory Speech

Wimbledon Victory Speech

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