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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Winning lessons from Andy Murray's triumph

Andy Murray won the first Grand Slam title after losing four Grand Slam finals. Like he said in his interview " I knew it would happen. But i was wondering when?". 

Murray's US open final match against Djokovic is a classic example of how achieving desired results is more of a battle against oneself than a battle against a competitor. In 2010, Murray cried when he lost the Australian Open final to Federer and he sobbed again when he lost the Wimbledon final to Federer in July 2012. But if you have seen his US open match on Monday night 1.30 am IST, you will understand the three principles of achievement that were described earlier.

1. Achieving desired results is about making multiple choices to develop your strength 

Andy Murray is a defensive player, but Ivan Lendl, who became his coach 7 months back focused on developing his forehand aggressively. Boris Becker credited this aggressive forehand as a significant factor in the win( Please refer to his TImes of India article ). It is important to focus efforts on one/two areas because one cannot dissipate energy in too may directions. 

Developing one strength takes lot of time,practice and lot of micro decisions over a long period of time. Observe what Ivan Lendl, his coach, said about his practice over a period of 7 months. As Ivan lendl, his coach said, "Both Andy and I were saying, 'Give us six to nine months'," the 52 year-old said. "Do the maths. You can help somebody, clearly, in a very short period of time. "However, it takes longer than that to help more, for the progress to set in. You cannot do that in one week, you cannot do it in one month."

Lessons for graduate students: What strength areas have you focused during your graduation? Out of the various subjects, which subjects have you focused on? If you are graduating as IT Engineer, are you focusing on Systems design or C language development? Or requirement analysis? or Security aspects? Given the extensive syllabus, one cannot give equal time to all the subjects. In order to reach 1000 feet depth in a subject, it is necessary to chose certain subjects to focus. What have you focused on? And more importantly, you have to make many micro decisions to remain focused on your strength.

2. Achieving desired result is about using the forced situations ( good or bad)differently 

The second aspect of achievement is about utilising different events that one does not choose, but one is forced into. 
Observe how Ivan Lendl helped Murray used the loss of Australian open 2012 to Djokovic. "To me, one of the most important matches of Andy's year was his loss to Novak in the Australian Open semi-final, because that was a war just like this one. It gave him the belief that he could hang in with these guys.  It showed him what it took to win." 

"Ever since he partnered with Ivan Lendl, Murray has been a better player, most importantly with his attitude and his approach in difficult situations", said Boris Becker

Lessons for graduate students: How are you using the forced situations in your life to grow ? As we have seen,  mental growth is more important. For instance, if your lecturer of C Programming likes to discourage students, how are you using this forced situation? Are you for instance using the discouragement to prove his worth? Or are you using free online websites to learn C programming?

How are you reacting to forced situations to enhance your learning? More than your ability to weather tough situations,this ability to use force situations will help you develop a 'i-can' mindset instead of 'i-am-a-victim' mindset. This winning attitude will go a long way in helping you win in your life.

3. Achieving results is about winning the battle with your mind's demons 

"In the past, we all accused him of losing big matches because of his state of mind, not necessarily because of his tennis". Boris Becker said in his above interview about Murray. In Murray's case, therefore it was clear that he was fighting a big battle with his mind's demons. 

Because of losing four Grand Slam finals, he had to keep away the 'self doubt' and somehow find a way to believe that he can still win the Grand Slam. Murray did not assume that this demon will somehow be reigned;  but like a winner he took one concrete step in reigning this demon. He hired Lendl (who had not coached before) as a coach ? By hiring Lendl as his coach, who also had lost four Grand Slam Finals before winning his first Grand Slam final, Murray took a big step in controlling this demon. 

 From the US open final match statistics, one can safely infer that Murray managed to reign his mind's demons.His 9 breaks of serve and 56 unforced errors clearly showed that the match was not played to his best ability. Despite this, Murray managed to keep his composure. Despite losing two set lead, he managed to check his demons in time and still manage to produce 'just good enough' performance in the fifth test and win. 

Lessons for graduate students: What are you doing to conquer your mind's demons? Are you getting stressed that you will not get a job after graduation, or are you using that stress to study the job industry in advance and get your desired job? Are you getting overwhelmed by the college studies, are you still managing to put your best in studying those subjects? Have you allowed your difficult teachers to raise your self-doubt, or are you still nurturing your 'can-do' mindset and finding someone else to teach you?


Most importantly, achieving results is not about winning a match, even it is a Grand slam final.  As Andy Murray nicely said in his interview "I am happy to be a part of this era in tennis. I always said that maybe if i played in another era maybe i would have won more, but wouldn't have been as good a tennis player'. That is a prayer of a top class Achiever. Winning is not the end, it is just a means to an end. 
It is about stretching oneself to one's fullest potential. It is about rewriting the meaning of achievement. It is about finding God on this earth. 

Are you nurturing the three practices of Achievement consistently?  

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