About two years ago, I wrote a short blog post on the topic “On Humanising Titans“, where I tried to put in perspective what it was like being humane by showing and demonstrating a new kind of leadership, that one of leaders as servants, as I was trying to capture what must have been, till then, one of those sport battles of epic proportions difficult to forget. Even today. Well, three years later, almost at that very same time, and at the very same venue (The Australian Open) I guess we have just witnessed another example where we can surely take the word epic into a new level! But even more so I think we have just witnessed, in its purest form, two very distinctive traits from that new kind of leadership that a bunch of us have been advocating all along over the course of the last couple of years: Perseverance and Resilience.
No doubt, last Sunday’s Australian Open’s tennis final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was one that’s going to be rather tough to forget, and perhaps we shouldn’t. In fact, I hope we don’t. If anything, I think, and I am hoping you would all agree with me, that it was magical to witness, over the course of 6 wonderfully long hours!, how just a single tennis game can transcend the court, and send a clear message, across the globe, when these two titans get together, to help us understand what we all are made of. Perseverance and Resilience at their best.
Now, at this point in time, most folks out there who know me know that I’m a true nadalist at heart, but at the same time I do recognise and acknowledge when someone is playing some absolutely stunning tennis, just like Roger Federer has done for years already!, and in this case the tide is shifting towards Nole. So big congrats to him and his team for making quite an entrance into 2012! Just fantastic!
However, I would want to share a couple of thoughts with regards to Nadal himself, since I cannot imagine what he must have felt like after losing such a tremendously powerful game down to a couple of details that I am sure we can all think about. And remember. Still. Here is this Spaniard, who has already lost a good bunch of finals with Nole during 2011 wanting to come back for more. Never giving up. Nor wanting to do so any time soon. Not only does he want to improve his game, knowing 2011 wasn’t enough to beat him, but also trying to search from within himself for new ways of re-finding excellence. He knows he just needs to keep coming back for more. He knows that the next time he will be one step closer. Perhaps that one that time around. He may be going down again though, as it has happened last Sunday, but there he is, standing up again, thinking about the next time. Because there will always be a next time. Whenever, wherever. Talking about being stubbornly perseverant and resilient, right?
Take a look at this absolutely beautiful piece put together by Brian Philips under the title “Nadal vs. Djokovic: Here We Are Again, My Friend” (The epic warfare of tennis’ big three)”, where not only does he get to define, and pretty accurately, what epic means nowadays, like I said, taking a new meaning altogether in today’s sports’ world, but where he also gets to talk about how tennis matches like that one, where titans clash together like those two, brings up a whole new beauty of lessons learned about life in general not just for tennis lovers, but for all of us in general:
“Nadal, though? He plays like he’s fighting giants. It’s not just the sneer, or the muscles, or the hair, or that forehand — you know, the one where he swoops the racket all the way around his head like he’s whipping the team pulling his chariot. It’s also that frantic tenacity that used to drive me so nuts. Federer seems devastated when he loses but he also seems to sense losses coming and accept them before they arrive. When Nadal falls behind, he turns the match into life and death. He gets mad. He hesitates less. He hits the ball harder. He doesn’t look sad or scared. He looks defiant, and he plays like he’s possessed“
Imperial, indeed! Not sure what you folks would think about that quote, but, to me, it clearly defines a very simple concept that’s slowly, but steadily, re-entering the corporate world at long last: passion. Yes, indeed, it’s all about how passionate you are with your mission, whatever it may well be; how willing you are to go the extra mile to accomplish that sense of achievement for having done something you feel really passionate about; to demonstrate that no matter what the conditions you may be working under, you can still have plenty of good fun. You can still enjoy the game. Whatever the game. It’s basically about showing how that leaders as servants mantra takes a new meaning when you bump into a fearless leader like Nadal wanting to serve not just himself, nor the game, but everyone else along with it! That’s what passion does to you, for you. That’s why every time he hits the court I’m right there, watching him stand, waiting to be wowed and inspired alike, once again, and be ready for another unbelievable tennis match.
Because, just like he, Nadal himself, stated after the match, after that 6 hour long final with some incredible tennis on both sides of the court, he’ll “keep fighting“. Well, if he will keep on fighting, so will we, don’t you think? It’s the least we could do for him and for us. It’s the least we could do for our leaders of tomorrow. Today. Once again, that’s what passion, and true, unconditional inspiration to want to excel even more at what you already do can do for you. Now, imagine that happening in the corporate world, with our own business leaders? Can you imagine where they would be capable of taking us all? No exceptions?
Serving to lead will take us there. No doubt. I can hardly wait for it! And you?