Success – Look to womens Tennis for inspirationPosted by William
What an odd heading. What has your (and my) success got anything to do with women’s Tennis?
I’ll start by listing the top female players in the world using the WTP tour rankings . This was done at the time of writing so if it changes by the time you read it don’t worry… I’m strongly convinced that my point will still stay valid! Well for the next 5-10 yrs anyway.
Top 10 – Women
- Dinara Safina (RUS)
- Serena Williams (USA)
- Elena Dementieva (RUS)
- Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
- Venus Williams (USA)
- Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
- Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
- Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
- Svetlana Kuznetsova (RSA)
- Nadia Petrova (RUS)
I know your thinking, where am I going with this? Your looking at the similarities and considering whether your name should end in an “a” or that you need to be from Russia or the Balkans in order to become successful. You could try that but there’s a little more to it.
Let me give you a brief run down of the dominant nations here, namely those countries that form part of the former Republic of Yugoslavia as well as Russia. I can see you just sitting there thinking I’ve gone mad with nostalgic school history delirium. Maybe I have a bit but bare with me, just give me 3-4 minutes of your time, it will make sense shortly.
I’ll be going through a very brief time-line after WWII. I’m doing this because that will give us a bit of a background of the Baby Boomers, ie the generation that belongs to the parents’ of these top players. Please note I’m using the great resource of Wikipedia and Infoplease.com for the first example. I’m not that gifted to be able to remember these facts my own!! By no means have I covered everything but there is a chance, and probably have, the facts a little bit mixed up but that’s not my point here. I will get to this a bit later.
Countries that form the former Republic of Yugoslavia:
- On January 31, 1946, the new constitution of Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was formed
- The country distanced itself from the Soviets in 1948 and started to build its own way to socialism under the strong political leadership of Josip Broz Tito.
- After Tito’s death on 4 May 1980, ethnic tensions grew in Yugoslavia, especially in Kosovo between ethnic Albanians and Serbs.
- 1991 Slovenia and Croatia each declare independence. Because 12% of Croatia’s population is Serbian, Yugoslavia fights hard against its secession for the next four years. As Croatia moves towards independence, it evicts most of its Serbian population.
- 1992 Ethnic tensions strain to the breaking point, and Bosnia erupts into war. Thousands die and more than a million are displaced. By the time a tenuous peace is achieved in 1995, the country has been partitioned into three areas, with each region governed by one of the three ethnic groups.
- 1996 In the southern Yugoslavian province of Kosovo, the militant Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) begins attacking Serbian policeman.
- 1998 Milosevic sends troops to Kosovo to quash unrest in the province. A guerrilla war breaks out.
- 1999 After peace talks fail, NATO carries through on its threat to launch airstrikes on Serbian targets.
- 2000 A popular uprising begins. A general strike is called and one million people flood Belgrade. Mobs attack Parliament building, security forces join them or retreat. Milosevic support crumbles, he steps down. Kostunica takes office. U.S., European Union begin to lift economic sanctions
- 2001 Milosevic is arrested by Yugoslavian authorities and charged with corruption and abuse of power.
Let me guess I’ve gone mad now haven’t I? Once again just bare with me a little. Now lets briefly (very briefly) go over Russia. Again I’m looking at post WWII Russia for the same reasons mentioned earlier. Sources used here are Wikipedia and a great Yahoo answer I found which summed it up nicely.
- Soviet Union emerged from World War II considerably stronger than it had been before the war. Despite huge losses to its Red Army it extended its control over most of Eastern Europe known as the ‘Iron Curtain’ which separated the ‘Free Peoples’ of Western Europe from the Communist East. (The curtain was made tangible by the ‘Berlin Wall’, which bisected that city after 1961.)
- Despite its power, life in the country continued to suffer. Industrial production was once again concentrated on heavy industry, agricultural failures produced widespread famine, political freedoms were restricted even further, and another huge wave of purges was carried out.
- The Russian leaders also killed an unprecedented number of political prisoners, mainly by shipping them to Siberia or the far north (the ‘gulags’), where they either worked themselves to death or froze.
- In 1989, Russian control of Eastern Europe collapsed, and the Berlin Wall was torn down.
Ok so hopefully you have stuck around to read what I have to say and why I bothered to write a brief history of these nations. What in the world its got to do with womens Tennis and business success?
No one can read through these histories lightly. Many of the incidents that occured are shocking and disturbing. Citizens were subject to the most terrifying conditions where their main goal was to survive until the next day. People who have been subjected to these times of war and hardship have witnessed things people like me, living in the comfort of Australia, don’t dare imagine. These are people of a different mindset and a completely different level of drive and determination. Their drive is one motivated by survival.
As we can see, eight out of the top 10 women tennis players in the world are from these regions. That’s 80%. These are people who’s family history is of an extremely overwhelming background. Their parents were most likely subject to unimaginable hardships and the drive to be successful is paramount. For many of these families, the mentality was that being successful, meant survival. Their drive to succeed was fueled by the prospect of a better life.
You often hear stories of these tennis players starting at an extremely young age, being sent off to Florida alone at the age of 12 in order to make it in professional Tennis. These stories are fueled with over zealous and demanding parents expecting nothing less that success from their children. Why? Because to them, after what they have endured, that success is a matter of survival. Sure, currently the situation in the nations at hand are not what they once were, but the survival mentality and the drive to succeed does not subside.
So to me its not surprising to see a burst of talented Russians, Serbians and Croatians making headlines in the world of professional tennis. The age they enter the sport is rather fitting if you look at what their family and most likely their parents endured.
What I’m trying to get at here is that we can look towards these players for inspiration. Inspiration when it comes to drive and motivation. For us, if we fail we pick ourselves up and try something new. Not all of us have this type of drive and our privileged and cushy lifestyles make it difficult to possess such a level of determination. This is not a bad thing as we take comfort for granted which should not be frowned upon, but understood. If we do fail, its actually not that bad as you can simply pick yourself up and move on or try again.
But I’m going finish this here. I’m not going to conclude my argument or my thoughts, I’ll let you do that. However I will pose this question: how different would your approach to life and success be if failure was truly not an option?