The Greatest Loser: Lessons From Roger Federer
Billy Cioffredi, PT: Cioffredi & Associates Founder
One of the many reasons I love sport is that it is a microcosm that reflects on life. As the recent summer edition of our Newsletter includes the topic of racquet sports, I thought of the greatness of Roger Federer. In my opinion, no one has won with such grace, poise, and sportsmanship as Federer. A man of immense talent and formidable work ethic, he was equally humble, always finding admiration in his opponents whether he won of lost. As great as he was though, when you sit down and watch the clips on YouTube, you’ll also see him playfully interacting with the ball boys and girls. Roger was always able to put forth a serious effort, yet not take himself too seriously.
I think it was the way he lost that impressed me so. Especially later in his career, I remember seeing his mis-hit balls that seemed like they were going out of the stadium. As soon as he lost the point, it was in the past. He didn’t carry the loss with him into the next point. And when he lost a match, he was appropriately sad for not making the win, but you would often hear him admiring the worthy play of his opponent. There are many talented athletes who, once they win, feel a terrible strain to keep on winning. What if they stop winning and only come in 2nd, 3rd, or lower, even if they are one of the best in their sport? You see it in golf, tennis and all other sports. Federer could lose. He worked diligently to win. But he was “Willing to Experience” a loss. In my opinion, it was an important element of Federer’s greatness.
I see that same issue in other aspects of life. The person who falls deeply in love experiences the beautiful high. And some, who then feel the hurt of a subsequent dissolution or rejection, may avoid falling in love that deeply again because they never want to experience that loss again. Similarly, some folks who come to see us have had an experience of pain or a loss that they are understandably reluctant to re-experience. Our effectiveness in supporting them to the point that their self-confidence allows them to be “Willing to Experience” can be more important than any of the technical skills we deliver. I think of it as “The Federer Effect” and believe it is what makes a true winner.
In whatever you choose to pursue in life, I hope that you too can fully open yourself to the experience and appreciate it for all that it is.