Green River Star -

By Lu Sweet
Western Wyoming Community College 

Lifelong Learning: Tennis player's tips can be used off the court


A couple of weeks ago, I read an article by tennis great, Serena Williams titled “Leadership Lessons.” (Coach, September/October 2016)

In it, Serena talked about four traits she tries to live by in order to be the best tennis player she can be. I share this with you, because these traits are not only good reminders for effective living, at work, at home, when you deal with others and how you carry yourself.

First, Serena says that people need to take the “long-term view”. She says that for her life is more than just tennis, which is her job. I agree. For me, even though I like my job, my life is my family and friends.

Second, Serena says that we all need to be brutally honest with ourselves. We need self-awareness, understanding our strengths and weaknesses and always striving to evolve, both personally and professionally.

I do try to get better at performing my job. I seek professional development opportunities and try to learn something new every day. But, I also try to be a better family member and friend and a better person. Serena works hard on her mental focus, physical fitness and her overall game. Just as Serena does, we should all continuously commit to self-analyze, grow and develop as people. We need to take a look at what we can do better.

Third, Serena says it’s important to strategize with your team. Serena relies heavily on her coaches, family, close friends and other trusted advisors.

She says that everyone on her team is fully vested in the outcome--Serena being as successful with tennis as she can possibly be. In work and general life, teamwork is crucial to great achievements.

A family is at its best when all members are supporting each other, helping each other, thinking of each other and loving each other.

A work team tends to be much the same and more successful when everyone has input on the mission and vision, the goals and the actions.

Finally, Serena says that we need to make pressure our differentiator. There have been many times when Serena has found herself down a set and needed to turn things around. She reminds us that when things are going our way, we look good and we feel good. But when things get tough-when we are under pressure or deadlines, or faced with difficult situations or crisis, that’s when we need to knuckle down and battle through.

Quitting should not be an option. Instead we should embrace the challenge and face it head on.

I realize this is all easier said than done. I’ve been in tough situations and all I wanted to do was throw in the towel or throw my head into my hands and have a good cry or pity party, but that would not have made things better. Three of my favorite quotes help me through tough times. Louisa May Alcott said,

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship,” Louisa May Alcott said.

“If you are going through hell, keep going,” Winston Churchill said.

And, my third is, by Walter Eliot.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other,” he said.

I really like this one because for me, if I can break up my goals in to smaller goals and benchmarks, then I can encourage myself every time I reach one and it’s easier to keep going.

Back to Serena. In doing a bit of research, I found that she has been ranked number 1 in the world six different times thus far. She has 22 Grand slam singles titles. The fact that she has done this and much more over the course of two decades and by battling through injuries makes all her achievements even more remarkable. I’m not a tennis player. I like going out and hitting the ball and playing a little bit. But this article isn’t about tennis, but rather about life. As Serena said, “Tennis is just a game, family is forever.”

In summary, these four traits that Serena talked about are really what life should be all about:

1) take a long-term view of things by looking ahead and realizing what really matters,

2) be self-aware and understand your strengths and weaknesses,

3) having and being in a support system makes all the difference in the world, and

4) knuckle down and battle through the tough times.

Great article. Thanks for letting me share.


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