Learning from Sports

I want to talk about the many things that I’ve learned in sports. I grew up playing a lot of tennis and was ranked number one in Switzerland and I played in the European and World championships, aiming for a long pro tennis career… until I got injured. I was very fortunate to have that experience and to be able to train with some of the best coaches in the world.

At a very young age, it gave me an abundance of priceless training not only for tennis but also in life and business because a lot of things in sports are very similar to what happens in business. One of the things that I’ve been taught from a very young age is to recognize your strengths and to build on your strengths.

Strengths and Self-Awareness

There are a ton of books about knowing your strengths, becoming self-aware, knowing where you’re the best at and I think it’s a term that’s been widely used that it has lost its true meaning. Let’s have a look at the life of a young athlete.

When an athlete trains at a young age, he naturally develops some skills that set him apart from others. Every athlete develops his own style. Each athlete is going to grow into a different player through the education, the idols they’ve had and through their natural style. The size of the athlete contributes to creating a unique style. If you look at sports, it’s difficult to find carbon copy athletes.

Tough Opponents

Everyone is different. One of the things that is relevant to building a business and growing into a long pro sports career is recognizing your strengths. For example, when I was 16 years old I played against Rafael Nadal. He was number 1 in the juniors and everyone knew that he was going to be a huge player, although no one knew that he’d actually win over 10 grand slams as a pro. The truth is, he was already very good at a very young age and his main weapon was his forehand along with his physical play.

I played against him when I was 16 years old and it was mind-blowing. He already had an incredible forehand. If you played to his forehand, you would lose the point literally 90% of the time. Even if you played to his backhand and he had the softest backhand, he would still be able to run around and hit a forehand. It was easy for him to put other players under pressure with his speed and him being a lefty, it was even tougher because the angles he could find were very difficult to deal with. If you look at him as a pro player now, his main weapon is still his forehand combined with his speed. And I think that’s very telling.

Improving Weaknesses and Recognizing Strengths

I think a lot of entrepreneurs who start businesses spend too much time working on weaknesses. I’m not saying that we must disregard weaknesses because if you suck at something, the first thing is to be aware of what your weaknesses are, and try to either improve them, or outsource them completely. I tried spending a lot of time trying to work on weaknesses for the first few years of my entrepreneurial career. Now, I spend 90% of my time focusing on my strengths, and that’s what made a massive shift in results.

If you have one or two main skills, that’s enough to be wildly successful. We get overwhelmed by thinking we need to be the best at everything. If you analyze the biggest achievers in different areas, they’ve usually based their entire careers around a few strengths and outsourced or delegated the areas where they don’t excel at.

Think about that today. Think of your strengths. Write your strengths and weaknesses down, be aware of them and then focus on using your strengths even more. For me, it’s been amazing to see the results and the speed in which things happen when I started recognizing my strengths instead of trying to correct my weaknesses.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you! 🙂