So, we’re nearly through the second week of Wimbledon. The main draws in both women’s and men’s singles each feature 128 of the most talented players on the planet. It’s now been narrowed down to the last four in the men’s and the finalists in the women’s singles. Technically there is little difference between those who’ve already lost and the woman and man who will raise the trophies at the weekend.
The scoring system in tennis means that those that have got so far have not only played well but are those who have managed themselves and their energy most effectively at the right time. This enrgy ebbs and flows through the course of the match.
At this level the margins are fine but it’s also being able to stay present, or stay in the moment, at critical points that makes the difference. In tennis this is done by developing the ability not to be rattled by set backs. At the top level in tennis players learn routines to still their minds after a point and re-focus on the next point. These can be things like playing with their racket strings, bouncing the ball before serving. Whatever the action they are ways of tuning out of the last piece of action and re-focusing on the next.
The pioneer in researching this in sport, Jim Loehr, has also extended his work into business, where senior people often start early, work long hours and go from meeting to meeting. Understanding how to use small amounts of time to tune out and re-focus has been critical to build capacity (and hence productivity). We have used similar techniques with teams in challenging environments to great effect, building capacity and ensuring positive outcomes.
Building capacity is not about working longer hours, it’s about working smarter. This includes becoming aware of your own energy and capacity and learning and practising techniques to increase your focus. Even when you’re at your busiest you need to take breaks, your productivity can drop-off without you noticing. Learn how to use the break time to tune out, then in returning take stock and re-focus. It also helps us to manage the ebbs and flows that we face and so readily affect our confidence, one of the most significant factors in our performance in all areas of our lives.