The gift of a lifetime. One day my grandfather gave me a card that reported his creed, his guidelines, which he had titled, “Four Things to Do”:
1. Be true to yourself. If you are not sincere with yourself you cannot be sincere with others. You need to know who you are and be true to yourself if you want to become what you can and should become.
2. Help others. You can’t have a perfect day without helping others. You can’t be happy without giving yourself to someone, without expecting something in return. The only real gift is a portion of yourself.
3. Make every day your masterpiece. I have always urged my players to do their best to improve on that day, to make that training a masterpiece. You cannot have control over the past or the future, you can only have control over the present. So, make today your masterpiece. Strive to improve every day.
4. Pray for guidance each day and give thanks for the gifts you have received. Too often we forget what we have because we are too worried about what we want. We take so many things for granted, and we forget to give thanks for these blessings: life, trees, flowers, our family, and friends.
“Don’t try to be better than someone else, try to be the best you can.”
Perfection. Perfection is impossible, but what is possible is to strive to achieve it. Do the best you can under existing conditions. Effort is what matters in everything: in sports, in marriage, in work, and to live in a community.
Learn forever, die tomorrow. I quickly came to believe that you should learn as if you were to live forever and live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn, acquire knowledge, and seek wisdom as if you need them for a long journey but always live with immediacy, savour every moment and set the right priorities. Don’t waste a minute.
The greatest joy is to be at peace with yourself, to know that you have made the effort, and the maximum effort possible to do what is right. True happiness comes from things that no one can take away from you. Material things disappear, sooner or later.
Success. Success has nothing to do with fame or fortune. Success is doing your best, it is peace of mind, that personal satisfaction that comes when you strive to do the best of what you are capable of. Only you can judge if you have been successful.
“Don’t tell me what you can do, show me.”
Preparation is the prize. “The journey is better than the destination” (Cervantes). We often neglect the journey due to too much anxiety about reaching the goal. But the goal is only a by-product of the hard work of preparation we have done along the way. The real success lies in the preparation, which must be total, complete, detailed. Let’s focus on the journey and not the destination.
Failures and mistakes. If you know you have done the best you are capable of, you cannot fail. You will make mistakes, of course, but they won’t be failures. The only person on earth who can know if you have made the maximum effort is you. If you blame someone else for your mistakes, you are looking for an excuse. When you are looking for excuses, you cannot evaluate yourself and without proper self-evaluation failure is inevitable.
“Perseverance is stronger than failure.”
The realistic optimist. If your goals are so idealistic that they cannot be achieved they will be counterproductive: you will become discouraged and abandon them. You must have achievable, difficult but possible dreams and do everything to achieve them. I have never dreamed of winning a Slam, what I always dreamed of every year was to try to produce the best players possible.
Some tips for success
* Do not fear any opponent but respect every opponent
* It is attention to the smallest details that makes great things happen
* Be more interested in character than reputation
* Be quick but don’t rush
* Know that the harder you work the more luck you will have
* Know that good self-analysis is critical to improvement
* Remember that there is no substitute for hard work and careful planning. Failing to prepare is equivalent to preparing to fail
Fighting yourself. The worst thing you can do that you have to be ashamed of is not to stand up for yourself, that is, not reaching your level of competence, and not putting in effort in every possible way.
Winners make more mistakes. Those who do make mistakes, but it is only by doing that you win.
Losing and winning. Victory and defeat are not in your control. What you can control is your preparation. If you have prepared yourself to the best of your ability you have achieved your goal, winning the game is just the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.
“Find peace of mind by making the effort to become the best you can become.”
Recognize a champion. True agonists love difficult situations, it is in these circumstances that they focus more and function better. At moments of maximum pressure, they want to win the point. They savour the challenge. The harder the game, the better the opponent, the better they play.
Is winning everything? I’ve never talked about winning to my athletes, I’ve never talked about beating an opponent. I’ve always talked about fighting to give the best of one’s possibilities. Total effort is everything, not the end result. The most important question is, “Did I do everything in my power?” and not “Did I win?”, if the answer to the first question is, “Yes” then the answer to the second will also be a yes.
Your standard of success. Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished but by what you should have accomplished given your abilities.
Be prepared. When a player asked me what he has to do to win, I told him to tell himself: “I will be prepared and maybe my chance will come because if it comes and I am not prepared, another opportunity may not present itself soon.”