Last night I was watching Australian open, the match between my favorite player and arguably the best tennis player of all times Roger Federer taking on the Serbian Novak Djokovic who doesn’t even have half the number of trophies Roger has.
The game started on equal grounds but a few games into the first set Novak started to dominate with his aggressive game. You could tell this guy is not going to give in and roll over just because he is playing the champion and it was this mindset that helped Noak to win the first set.
A few games into the second set and Roger really stepped up his game. Up until this point whoever was serving was also winning that game but Roger managed to win a few games regardless of who was serving. He changed tactics from his soft, defensive back-hand/drop shots into aggressive, close to the net, forehand with the addition of his powerfull serves. He got ahead two games and the 6’ 2 Serbian was stunned running around the court like a headless chicken. Roger was performing magic when he played his A game.
But then something very interesting happened. For some unknown reason, perhaps because he lost a mere one point, Roger reverted back to his old self. He had gone back to his comfort zone and refused to continue playing like the confident champion. He refused to continue doing what worked. His aggressive game gave way to defensive once more and he played exactly how the Serbian wanted him to play. It was as if Novak was the world’s best tennis player of all times and Roger was Novak. Needless to say Roger Federer, the world champion was humiliated when he lost 3 sets in a row and was eliminated and it wasn’t even Nadal that was eliminating him.
From this I managed to learn something new. That even the world champion, the one that eats and breaths Tennis, can lose if he doesn’t enter the game like a champion. Federer had lost the mental game long before he lost the physical game. Federer may have had the best serves, higher firepower, better tactics and endless physical endurance but he forgot to bring the most important weapon with him and that was his belief that HE is the champion not Novak.
In our field, sales professionals spend a lot of time on objection handling, immaculate and flashy presentations, great tactics, spin selling methodology and the list goes on. At times however we forget the most important thing. We forget that it is our mindset that will make or break us. We refuse to believe that we are the ones that help companies gain competitive advantage and candidates to get better jobs. We allow ourselves to be undermined by economic news or a mere article written by someone who thinks job advertising boards and Linked in are suddenly going to replace us. We refuse to step outside our comfort zone and to step up our game, change tactics and try new things and instead we allow the outside world to dictate itself onto us. Being a champion is not about how many trophies you have, it is about your mindset when you enter the battlefield.