French Open: 8 Leadership Lessons from Roland Garros
If you are big tennis lover as I am, you already know how special Roland Garros’ tournament is in Paris. Playing on the outdoor clay courts, rain or shine, requires not only a different technique and skill set, but also a changed mindset in order to perform the best that you can. This is so accurate in business and life too, would you agree?
Many of you heard “when opportunity knocks on the door, open it” right? As I traveled the world, I found this statement to be consistently accurate and that not many people realize this to be the case. Often, things get dropped into our lap when least expected. With experience and seasoned business acumen, we know deep down what great opportunities we should act on and which ones we should let go.
An opportunity knocked on my door last week as I was diligently working on finishing my book and consulting projects. Without too much questioning, I took action. I was able to adjust my schedule, still do a lot of work remotely (eight hours time difference with the US indeed helps to stay ahead ;-). Here I am in Paris!
During my magical stay in Paris, there were calls for sharing the following powerful leadership lessons:
1. Being Open – It is not surprising to connect with people in a new and unexpected way when you are friendly, open and willing to experience things “outside of the agenda”. It is essential to shift gears, so you can accomplish more in less time. As a result, I met some of the most accomplished people not only with French Tennis Federation, current and former tennis stars, top tennis club owners, tournaments and brands sponsors but also investors and business people in the European Union (EU). This not only allowed me to attend some of the best networking events but also to gain a quickly shared understanding of the business trends and issues in the specific parts of the EU.
2. Going With the Flow – Waiting in lines with the crowd is not something that can be avoided – regardless if you have a VIP pass or not or who you may know. This is exactly the case at the French Open – which has a slightly different protocol and process than the US Open. If you never attended any large tennis tournaments, it feels like a mini Olympic game with hundreds of the best players from all over the world competing for the first place. Seeing people arguing while watching games (fight even), waiting in the lines, or while rooting for their favorite players can ruin the experience for so many.
3. Knowing Your Audience – French culture is not the same as the rest of Europe or the French Canadian speaking region as many people in the North America may think. Sadly, French is not one of the languages that I am fluent in, but putting that little extra effort with basic French will get you much further with the locals – in restaurants, hotels, taxies, museums or streets. Making new lifetime friends may not be as hard as you may think because it can happen anywhere at any time – I am getting more offers than I could take in my eight-day trip. We as humans want to be and do naturally do something together even in a city where you may feel like a total stranger.
4. Listening & Observing – Nothing can as quickly get you to learn something new even if you just understand a few words of French. When you are fully present, you may be surprised how much more you can understand the foreign language, people, and learn from more than 90% of the non-verbal communication. Observing and listening is so powerful – we can learn so much about others, business, and ourselves.
5. Having Fun – Nothing gets you faster in or out of the social scene as your own attitude and behavior. At the end of the day, if you are not enjoying where you are or what is going on around you – change something within you. It is just that simple! If you are waiting for someone else to make you happy – you are wasting your most precious assets: time & opportunity.
6. Going for Grand Slam – Dream of every professional tennis player! It takes seven consecutive match victories to take home a Grand Slam title. But to play so well on the clay court is true art and requires patience, practice and play adjustment. Is this sounding familiar in business or perhaps life too? Going for the big promotion, milestone recognition, or reaching that very high goal? As we know, we can’t just work hard few weeks before a big day. It takes the attitude and aptitude of the champion!
Champions keep playing until they get it right!” ~ Andy Murray, Great Britain Professional Tennis Player
7. Knowing Your Skill Level – It is essential to know where you are either as a player or coach, boss or employee in a business or in life… This powerful quote exclusively shared with me during my interview with Leon Smith, Great Britain Davis Cup Captain & Head Coach of Men’s Tennis sums it so well:
It is so important to know what stage the players are in their career in order to know what type of coaching they need the most to succeed.” ~ Leon Smith, Great Britain Davis Cup Captain & Head Coach of Men’s Ten