After a marathon match of nearly 6 hours last year in the Australian Open Final, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met once again in the semifinals of the French Open. One of the greatest rivalries in all of tennis: #1 in the world, Djokovic, versus “The King of Clay,” Nadal, who held an impressive record of 57-1 going into the semi-final match.
The match did not disappoint, spanning 5 sets and lasting more than 4 ½ hours. Both players showed an incredible amount of grit and determination, but in the end it was Nadal who advanced and captured his 8th French Open Title. But there are more than memories to take away from this epic match-up. As leaders, there are many lessons in business that we can take away from this historical match. Below, are just a few of these lessons.
- Expect the Unexpected. The French Open is unique in that it is the only Grand Slam played on clay. Unlike hard surfaces, clay courts allow players to slide into shots, creating opportunities for competitors to slip and misstep. Clay courts also slow down the speed of the game and cause the ball to bounce higher. The most successful French Open Champions, like Nadal, have been able to make adjustments to their game according to the court surface. This is no different in business. The most successful business leaders are those who are nimble and able to make adjustments according to outside factors.
- Consistency is key. If you were to look up the definition of consistency in a dictionary, you might see the words “See Rafael Nadal.” He is nearly unbeatable at the French Open with his only loss at Roland Garros coming back in 2009. In every aspect of business, consistency is key to organizational success. When thinking about your customers and clients, providing consistent, superior service is crucial. When leading a team, it is important to be consistent in your decision making.
- You have to know how to lose in order to know how to win. Djokovic may have been disappointed after the loss, but that didn’t prevent him from congratulating his fellow competitor, stating "I congratulate my opponent, because he showed the courage in the right moments and went for his shots…” After the match, Djokovic expressed his optimism and eagerness to prepare for next year’s French Open. In business, there will always be winners and losers. What sets leaders apart is how they handle the losses. Be a good sport no matter the outcome. In every loss, find the silver lining. And learn from your mistakes.