Feb 1

Career success: Do you need to try harder?

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Career success: Do you need to try harder?

Whilst much of the press coverage of the Australian Tennis Open this month focused on the implications for Andy Murray’s career, it was a stepping stone for the two-times Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova.

The Challenge

 You may have missed the story about Kvitova. In December 2016 she was in her apartment in Prostejov in the Czech Republic when she was attacked by a knife wielding intruder in what the police described as a “random criminal attack”. Despite having the knife pressed to her throat at one point, she was able to fight free but sustained deep cuts to the fingers of her left hand.

This was an extremely serious injury for her, her left hand being her racket hand, noting that she also plays a two handed backhand. She required immediate surgery to repair five tendons and two nerves. Right from the outset, Kvitova realised her road to recovery could be difficult, posting on Facebook :

“The injury is severe and I will need to see specialists, but if you know anything about me, I am strong and I will fight this.”

Her attacker has never been caught and the motive for the attack has not been established. In November last year, the Czech Police halted the investigation saying that they were unable to take it any further due to lack of evidence

The Comeback

12 weeks after her surgery Kvitova picked up a racket for the first time, immediately realising that it felt nothing like the sensation of holding one as she would before the attack. In a recent article in The Guardian, Kvitova reported that she still suffers from nerve damage and cannot fully clench her fist or feel two of her fingers.

 That didn’t stopped her from returning to tennis at the French Open in May 2017. Her comeback was complete when she won the Birmingham Open in 2017.

What do we learn from this?

You’ll note that a good proportion of my blogs feature examples from the world of sport. This is not deliberate; however there are some characteristics of this environment that mean sports people are a rich source of learning about success. Consider the following:

  • Sporting careers are often short, so there is a pressure to perform right from the outset of a professional sporting career;
  • Most sports are fiercely competitive and if you don’t learn and focus on continuous improvement, you get left behind; and
  • To get to the top, sports people often have to expend many hours practising how to be the best, there aren’t any short cuts

You have to agree that it is quite something for a tennis player to get back to the top of the game having nearly lost the fingers on her main playing hand – Petra deserves a lot of respect for having done this. To paraphrase her:

The experience has shown her just how much of a fighter she has to be in order to succeed.

Perhaps someone who was less determined might have given up and gone on to do something else? Andy Murray has a similar challenge with his hip injury, having just had further surgery himself – so Kvitova is not alone in battling the odds to get her career back on track.

What about you?

If you were to think about your own life goals or career ambitions in terms of the degree of difficulty, would you genuinely be able to say that, on balance, you were fully determined to achieve them?

In this instance, how might your determination compare to Kvitova’s sheer grit in coming back from a potentially career ending injury? You might not think that they are the same, however there are big similarities – we don’t have infinite time, we are in a competitive world and success is something that most people have to strive towards.

If you aren’t making the progress you desire towards whatever you want to get out of life, perhaps you need to ask yourself “am I genuinely trying hard enough?”.

Remember, it is never too late to start working towards the outcomes in life that you DO want.

If you need some help to work out what your outcomes (or goals) in life could be, why not give us a call?

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