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Put a Post It on your PC, on the right side, near the top with the words “THINK LIKE ANDY” on it. Do it now. It might not make you a better tennis player but it will change your life.
Imagine every one of us started to think like Andy Murray, our greatest ever sportsman. I’m not being facile here, it’s important. However Brexit and Trump and all that jazz plays out one thing is for sure: we live in interesting times. Who knows what will happen next year, but whatever transpires you need to be ready for it.
A few years ago I was in the audience for a motivational session to 100 or so business professionals. A simple exercise by a top athletics coach sticks in my mind: he gave us a few minutes to rank NATURAL ABILITY, COACHING & ATTITUDE in order of importance.
Few of us got it right: attitude trumps ability and coaching every time. It’s not that the latter two are unimportant, for sure they are, but we have all played with teammates who were head and shoulders above the rest and stayed in their comfort zone because they never really wanted it enough.
It might not be everything but it is a cornerstone.
- When Murray got to number four in the world, if I had a pound for every Scot who said, “Aye but that’ll be it, those other boys are just too good... that Federer fella”.
- When Murray, after more than a few disappointments, won his first major if I had a pound for every Scot who said, “Aye but that’ll be it, anyone can get lucky once. Those other boys are just too good. That Nadal chap…”
- When Murray won the Olympic singles title for the second time, if I had a pound for every Scot who said, “Aye but the boys that are really good never turned up this time. And it was only the Olympics… ”
- When Murray had the chance to finish 2017 as world number one pretty much everyone thought number two was going to be it and that would be just fine. “That Novak fella. I mean, when he’s on his game. And all those hours Andy played this week. I mean… two’s good enough. And he’ll never get to number one again...”
Do you want to think like Andy? Well, here are three things you can do today:
- Nobody got up in the morning for an achievable goal, so set a goal that’s out of reach. Aspire to something in the distance that will get you up in the morning and have you staying late at night, that will have you go the extra mile when it might be comfier to sit on the couch eating Pringles.
- Set shorter goals that you can achieve in a day or a week or a month. Change them, play with them, tweak them until they work for you. Experiment until you get them right. Work with others for sure but they are your goals, so no passing the buck. Cut yourself some slack if you don’t nail it right away, but not too much. You know what that means. There is no point getting into a lather about miserably unachievable goals, but know your direction of travel and make it second nature to move towards it.
- Consciously change your attitude and do not confuse attitude with passion, because passion is not enough. Stop saying no and start saying yes; stop quitting too soon on your specific goals and start quitting right now on the things that are pointless and destructive; give yourself the opportunity to be number one, even if your own view is that there are three awesome road blocks ahead and it is unlikely ever to happen. No one can stop you thinking positively. No one can prevent you changing your behaviour. No one can dictate what you do next.
And here is an extra one, especially for far too many Scots: Stop dissing the most complete and outstanding sportsman this country has ever produced.
Whenever you are tempted to talk rubbish about Andy Murray, to say he could smile a bit more or put an “ah but..” suffix to any conversation about him, commit this to memory “Andy Murray is an outstanding, courteous and charming, dedicated and inspirational young man who is an awesome ambassador for Scotland and the UK, playing a sport that we really don’t do in this country.”
Just imagine what we could achieve, individually and collectively, if we all thought like Andy.
The Scottish Cringe would disappear overnight because it’s not about being too big for your boots, being chocolate and eating yourself or any of the other old tropes. But it is having proper self-confidence, an ambitious plan and the right attitude.