I’m a little obsessed by sports at the moment. I’m still coming down from the emotional roller coaster of the US Open Tennis and I’m about to start my next ride with The Yankees as they go after the Blue Jays for the AL East title. I’m not quite sure why because I’m not at all naturally sporty and the sports activity I do participate in is are work for me – or am I?
What I am absolutely fascinated by is observing successful people. I am at a point where I’m looking at “what next?” for my career. I’ve been observing as many successful people as I can in the business world and – candidly – I haven’t seen that much joy. Where I have seen joy is in sports and I have decided I want some of that! I want something that gives me the type of face-breaking grin that Roberta Vinci has after coming second in the women’s championship to her best friend of 20+ years. I want to have the type of friendships that Flavia Penneta and Roberta Vinci have – because that hug, those whispered words on the Arthur Ashe court were something special that you don’t often get to see. I want to be able to say the same type of things that Roger Federer said in one of his after match interviews, along the lines of; “I enjoy this life, we enjoy visiting the cities and seeing something different each time” and frankly I have respect for anyone who can compete at that level and fit in time to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Tweet about it – never mind travel happily with his wife and two sets of twins! And I saw it again last night when Heathcott delivered the 3 run homer in the 9th innings for the Yankees at Tampa Bay. Never mind how excited Slade Heathcott looked, did you see ARod in the dug out? I was fired up just watching him and I’m a girl for goodness sake!
Of course, like anything in life, it’s not that simple. Success for one person isn’t success for another. By any objective measure, Serena Williams had the most amazing year. Her statistics completely outweighed, outshone both Vinci and Penetta. But as the tennis year closes out, it was hard to tell if Serena felt successful. For Vinci and Penetta it was clearly a different story, having set themselves a different set of criteria for success, the end of year left them both on an amazing high. Noticing a tweet from Serena Williams last night about her upcoming show at New York Fashion Week, I wondered whether this was what really mattered to her now, the recognition and success in a new field amongst different peers and that the defeat at the US Open was disappointing but not devastating. I’m looking forward to seeing whether that ear-splitting grin emerges at the end of her fashion show, a sneaky feeling tells me that it will …
I wonder the same about Novak Djokovic. Is his goal simply to win the titles and to approach some of the records that Federer holds or would he really like the adoration of the crowds that Federer is able to command? Even when Djokovic received the US Open trophy – and provided the obligatory trophy kiss – I saw less pure joy than I continue to see in Vinci’s amazing ear to ear grin. I believe that this may be something important for Djokovic to come to terms with in a very private way and once he does, conversely I wouldn’t be surprised if he did win the hearts of the crowd because we would all probably sense a level of peace within himself that is not present today.
And so I want to thank all of the sportsmen and sportswomen who have provided me with such a lot of joy (and some pain – I am a Federer and a Yankees fan, for my sins) and provided such an insight into some important life lessons for me. As I go forward thinking about what next, I’m planning to seek my joy and trust that with the joy will come the reward that I would like to support me and my family.