My interest for the tennis game is not only about the beauty of the game, but the life lessons that one can learn from playing tennis.
Just to be sure that you do not take me for a pro tennis player, kindly note that, I play tennis just for exercising. I have found that more enjoyable than going to the gym for weight lifting or aerobics. At least for tennis, you take on different opponents. You can also have time to socialize in between games. In learning to play the game, I have somehow picked up some lessons that can be useful for young entrepreneurs. Let me share four of these lessons with you.
To play good tennis, you must learn the basics
Tennis is a game with many rules. There are many basic rules beyond just hitting the ball with a racket. For instance, you cannot just move your foot anyhow when playing. The foot movement must go with how you intend to hit the ball; that is whether you are hitting a forehand or a backhand stroke.
Furthermore, you cannot just stand upright when you are hitting the ball. You must slightly bend your knees and stretch your fore arm for a good drive in hitting the tennis ball. You are to have your hands stretched when a ball is approaching. You don’t open to hit when the ball is closer to you.
When I enrolled to learn how to play tennis, my “coach” just taught me how to hold the racket. He started throwing the balls at me and expected me to hit them across the net. Although, I found myself a “coach” to help me learn how to play the game, I realized over time that he had not taught me the basics of the game. Not learning the basics right from the start hindered the way I played. I had no option but to go back to the basics. Learning the right moves has not been easy for me since the old habits keep cropping up.
The first lesson for young entrepreneurs is to get the basics right for your business. This is very much as important as having the desire or idea in starting that particular business. Acquiring the skills needed for managing your dream enterprise is very vital. Young entrepreneurs must acquire the basic skills or knowledge through coaching from people who have much understanding in managing other enterprises. I have come to appreciate that starting it right as an entrepreneur is very important as having the right skills and attitude for managing and growing any business. When you acquire the basic skills or lessons for any business enterprise, it shortens your “wondering” moments and saves you from avoidable mistakes that can threaten both the entrepreneur and the business. Just like it pays to learn the basics of tennis, young entrepreneurs must also learn the rudimentary of entrepreneurship in order to achieve the best as entrepreneurs.
Do not just start being competitive
One of the things that I am very sure did not aid me to develop the basics of the tennis game was the fact that just after some initial lessons from the coach, he started arranging games for me and other players who were also beginners like myself. When I started playing “competitive” games, I begun focusing on how to win a game and did not care much about how to play the game well. Thinking of winning is not bad in itself, however, the urge to win can hold you from playing your best. I became obsessed with winning such that there was no incentive to hit the ball with the needed power and drive. I became too cautious while playing. I wanted every hit to lead to a point so i had to ensure that none of the tennis balls landed outside the playing area. Over time, I noticed that, being cautious or too careful took away my innovation and the fun of playing tennis.
In the real business world, your product will not just become number one overnight. Your company or startup will not become the number one ‘seed’, so do not overly become competitive with other players in your industry. There is the need to learn all that you can learn while focusing on your own growth. Do not keep your eyes on competition and lose the key character or skills needed to help you grow the business. Focusing too much on winning can lead to taking short cuts in your business which in the long-run cannot help your company to survive the real test. As young entrepreneurs , love what you do. First, do what you do out of love. It is the love bit that will keep you going when things get out of hands or when things become very difficult.
Lessons for young entrepreneurs – Constant practicing perfect your game
This is very basic to most sports and tennis is not an exception. Anytime I return to play after taking a long break from playing as a results of work or social activities, I would have to take time to get things right; at least for some minutes depending on how long I have been away. This is very much so with a lot of the players I have come into contact with. They all will have to take some time to regularize their play after taking a long break. The opposite can be said of people who constantly have playing times. Having more playing times improves your stamina and control. It gives you the opportunity to quickly learn and polish your rough strokes.
Startups requires your devotion and time. In the lessons for young entrepreneurs, you must constantly review your activities to understand your business better. Your daily engagements will improve your mastery over your business. Like the tennis game, you will have to improve your stamina but this time, it is not about physical stamina but intellectual stamina. Make conscious time to read and learn about your business and the industry you find yourself. Bury your head in your business and spend constant quality time polishing up the sides of the business that will need polishing. Leaving your enterprise unattended to for some time can threaten the survival or growth of the business.
Lessons for young entrepreneurs; Keep your eyes on the balls
The game of tennis requires that you have a strong mental focus and maximum concentration. The game also requires you to make quick decisions in a very timely manner.Without these things you cannot enjoy the game.
The tennis ball is the most important thing in the game. To take your eyes off the ball is just like a hunter shooting without a target. No matter how much you are distracted you must keep your eyes on the ball. Whether you are winning or losing, you must keep your eyes on the ball.
Aside from keeping your eyes on the ball, you must master the art of making quick decisions. If your mind is clouded with more than one action, it can affect your play. In real life entrepreneurship, you need the power of focus more than anything. You must keep your focus on what you have set out to deliver; product or service. You must focus on your business and strategies no matter what other players are doing. The common thing between two players on a tennis court is the ball which everyone gets the opportunity to hit. It is the same with business. The only thing that connects you and your competitor are your businesses. Focus on improving on your business. Do not care so much about getting equal or winning over another entrepreneurs. Care about your services, strengthen your team and systems to be effective. Deliver what you have developed the capacity to deliver. What will win the game for you is the strategy you bring to bear and how you skillfully roll it out.
Every day as an entrepreneur, you will be required to make decisions that can have a positive or negative impact on your business. You must develop the habit of taking quick decisions in the spell of the moment. In your decision making, you will have to be very decisive and clear in your thoughts. So keep your eyes on the business, make quality clear decisions and be very strategic in timing what to do with opportunities thrown at you.Do not just hit the ball because it has been ballooned to you. Watch! It may have a spin and if it is not handled well, it will go against you. Same with business opportunities. Watch and know what is best to do and when to do it.
Starting an enterprise no matter how small or big can be a very difficult task. There are, however, several ways that you can go around that challenge. Learning the right basics can be very helpful in avoiding common traps that will waste your time and resources. Everyone or every business must strive to win but you cannot win without having to perfect your game. To stay on top of your game, invest time, energy and money. No matter what distracts you, keep your focus in order to get going in the business. Learn and practice quality decision making so that you can provide quick turnaround solutions to challenges that may confront your business. Tennis, like entrepreneurship, must be enjoyed whether you win or lose.
Author: Roderick Ayeh
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