Serena Williams australian Open winning

Serena Williams Will Be Back to Win Another Day

Serena Williams got knocked around in her loss to Angelique Kerber in the final of the Australian Open today. A true champion who failed in her attempt to win her 22nd Major, Williams said post-match of Kerber, “She played so well today. She had an attitude that I think a lot of people can learn from, just to always stay positive and never give up.”

Could you be so gracious in defeat? Could you jump up off the mat and prepare to duke it out again with your next opponent?

What it Takes to be a Winner

There’s a lot of advice out there about setting goals, working harder than your competition, being determined, being bold, and so forth. All good and necessary.

But maybe we mistake other people’s goals for our own. Angelique Kerber had the goal of winning at least one major in her career. Doubtful she’ll set her next goal to matching her countryman Steffi Graf’s 22nd slam wins.

Did you ever think that maybe your goals don’t have to be so big and lofty? I have good friends that objectively are more successful than I am. They have more business and I know they make more money.

But I don’t want to be hopping on planes all the time and hustling for business 24/7. As I was building my career, I certainly set my sights high and did hop on planes and go after business. But goals aren’t fixed in place. They’re moving targets.

Know Thy Self

What do you really want out of your career and for your life? That’s the hard question. We constantly compare ourselves to others. Maybe your short-term goal is just to make it to the next day, the next challenge, the next step in getting to where you’d like to be. So what if you step out of the grind for a while?

Look at Serena. The Australian Open was her first match since her loss in the U.S. Open last September. She decided she needed to recharge for battle. She came up short in the Australian Open, but she’ll be back to fight another day.

It’s OK to lose once in a while. Getting to the finish line is more of a slog than a foot race. Celebrate your small victories along the way.

Your time will come. Maybe you’ll find it in yourself to deliver a knock-out punch for your business just like Angelique Kerber surprisingly defeated the person that some say is the greatest women’s tennis player in history.

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Comments

    • A.K. — yes, Serena is a fighter and she practices sportsmanship. She crossed the net to congratulate the woman who vanquished her. No temper tamptrums like some fallen heroes.

  1. I like it that goals should be personal – for you to determine at whatever stage of life you are instead of being influenced by others.
    I do appreciate Serena and her statement about her opponent shows she’s a winner in more ways than one.

    • Lenie — that’s the hardest thing to do, in my view — make your own determination of what’s right for you and not feel you have to emulate other people’s goals.

  2. Great topic Jeannette and a question I seriously struggled with for awhile several years ago. I’d busted my hump to get into sales for the international hotel chain I worked for and when I finally did I was hugely successful. So much so that they wanted to put me into a fast track program for advancement. But that meant not only leaving Hawaii and moving back to the mainland, but bouncing around to take assignments in various parts of the world. On the one hand I was flattered – who wouldn’t be? But I had a lot of friends in high places in the company so I knew what it meant to leave my pond and jump into the ocean with the big guys, and I wasn’t really sure that was the life I wanted for myself. Ironically just as the pressure to move was mounting I got an offer to go to an independent hotel. The prestige and glamour wasn’t there, but the hotel had just been sold and it did represent a huge challenge to create something really special here, so I quit and made the leap. That decision represented a significant turning point, and I haven’t regretted the path I chose … okay, maybe the money a little. 🙂

    • Marquita — I admire you for the tough decision you made. But you found the right path — maybe not strewn with gold — but it made you happy. That’s a big perk.

  3. As for me, I know myself too well. I have a low self-esteem especially when it came to competition. But, instead of letting this become negativity, I used it to drive me in training. This way I was all ways trying to become better.
    Having lofty goals is not wrong, because even if you do not reach them, you are still higher than those who have reached their low level goals.

    • William — I wouldn’t have thought you have low self-esteem. In your writing you seem so confident. Just shows that we’re all different and we are the ones to judge our successes and not anyone else.

  4. Such a valuable post for many Jeannette. Including this baby boomer who has recently come to the understanding that this kind of attitude is so important to our health if nothing else! Yes, it was gracious how Serena responded to her loss. And while she might go on to fight another match, that doesn’t even mean everyone will want to as you point out what Angelique’s next goal might be.

    Brilliant assessment. Thanks.

    • Patricia — I think we need to get over comparing ourselves to others. Our goals may not be as lofty as someone else’s but they are just as important and reaching them is just as meaningful.

  5. I believe what it takes to be a winner is a positive attitude and a determination to be a better person than I was yesterday I don’t believe in looking over my shoulder at what someone else is doing unless I am trying to improve my own game. There is no value in it and I am not competing with anyone. It’s all about giving your own personal best which varies from one day to the next and I agree with what you say about goals. They are not set in stone because nothing in life is set in stone. To be successful, goals must not only be measurable and realistic. They must also be functional, adaptable, and sustainable.

    • Michele — So true, that life is not set in stone. While it’s important to have determination in reaching goal, sometimes you need to readjust your plans based on changing circumstances. Not always easy to do.

  6. Good point about mistaking other people’s goals as our own. Often we work toward other people’s definition of success, thinking that is what matters. Know yourself is good advice. If we have the courage and persistence to follow our own goals, what matters to us, we’re all winners.

    • Donna – It’s often difficult not to see other people’s accomplishments and think, “Why couldn’t I have done that?” But that’s just too painful when, as you say, we have to follow our own goals, our own path.

  7. I like the idea of setting short-term, achievable goals and then adjusting as you go. Things change and sometimes being hyperfocused on a long term, lofty goal can leave you wondering what you’ve missed along the way. I don’t follow tennis much, but as I was reading this I was wondering if Kerber’s goal was to win from the start to win the whole tournament. It’s possible that it might have just been to reach a certain round of the tournament and she adjusted upward as the wins continued to come.

    • Ken — I like your observation about Kerber. We can set short-term goals, like winning the next match, and then set our sights higher to win the next match, etc. Serena’s goal was to win the tournament from the get-go, but I think that was more of an aspiration for Kerber until she built upon her early successes and grabbed the gold.

  8. I did love her classy way she expressed her loss. Hugging the winner and giving her the encouragement she did was the display of a true winner to me. Indeed, she will come back to win another day and will be remembered and celebrated for the great lady she is.

    • Susan — I do think Serena showed a lot of class in losing. She’s a tough competitor and hates to lose, but she also has the ability to show grace in the face of defeat.

  9. When one achieves a big goal it’s important to take some time to enjoy the success, but for me equally important is to start setting the next big goal, if there aren’t already a stream of them waiting in the wings! Being defeated in one battle is not the same as losing the whole war. Being a professional, doubtless Serena can recognise and acknowledge the skill of an opponent, it’s great that she could be so gracious about their win, not everyone can muster that kind of response.

    • Rosalind — How true, if you get knocked down once, you need to get up to fight the next battle. No one said winning would be a bed of roses.

    • Debra — Ah, so true. I’ve discovered over the years that it’s a never ending journey, trying to figure out what’s right for you. And what’s right changes with your circumstances so maybe we should stop fretting about what we’re going to be when we grow up!