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Lessons from Arthur Ashe

September 26, 2014 by  
Filed under blog

Many years ago when I first started to play tennis I was so gung-ho about the sport that I traveled to all four of the major grand slams–Wimbledon, the French Open, the Australian Open and the U.S. Open in New York City.  I was so very impressed with the great champion Arthur Ashe and so admired him, not only as the number one tennis player in the world for a time but just as much for how dedicated he was to improving the lives of everyone, especially the unfortunate of the world.  To me he was an incredible double champion!

I will never forget, as long as I live, that night when the last match at the U.S. Open in New York finished so very late.  As I walked out of the stadium (the very stadium that has now been named “The Arthur Ashe Stadium) to catch a cab, I was surprised to see there were only a few cabs left and tons of people heading toward them.  So being quite young I sprinted to try to catch one.  I barely made it to the last taxi, but as I opened the back door and jumped in, someone else was doing the same thing on the other side.   As both doors slammed shut I look over to see none other than Arthur Ashe as my seat mate! Man, oh man, was I ever surprised, startled and yes, quite frankly, “star struck”. We quickly agreed to share the ride since we were both heading for mid-town Manhattan.  On the ride there I picked his brain to get all the tennis and life coaching I could possible pull out of him in that 45 minute ride.

What a great experience that had been and what a great man he was.  He was so much more than a world champion tennis player.  From a young age growing up in a segregated society, he set about to help change the world by helping people and thus making the world a better place for all of us.

Earlier yesterday, I was struggling to come up with a topic for this week’s blog and as I was thinking about possible subjects I flipped on the TV. Yes of course, the tennis channel was on and there was a biography being shown on Arthur Ashe including his many victories in his tennis life as well as off the court and his sad and somewhat sudden death at the young age of 49.   So it was an easy decision for my blog subject.  What great lessons I began to learn from his life as I watch the commentary.  He did a lot more in those short 49 years than I ever realized.  So much more than I can put in this one blog, so I am going to tell you more about his life and the impact that it had on the world in the next blog.

For now, the take away I want to leave you with is this–if you are looking for a big life time goal that will energize your life, I suggest you first take a look at yourself and see what your talents are and what you like to do and then spend time figuring out how you can direct those talents to make a difference in the world.

When we are young most of us are pretty self-centered and most everything we do is directed at just helping ourselves, but as we grow older and a little wiser we see that helping others is not only very satisfying but it can make the world a better place for everyone for many, many years to come.

 

Repetition is the Best Teacher

April 15, 2011 by  
Filed under blog

My good friend Paul J. Meyer (who sadly passed away a while ago) used to always say “Don’t read 1,000 books but choose 100 of the very best books and read them over and over again.” Spaced repetition is how we remember and makes it easier for us to practice what we learn in our daily lives because the ideas become ingrained and natural.

This idea hit me hard recently when I realized that the basic concept also applied to other things such as my tennis game. I had mastered the best way to hit a forehand many years ago but over the years I stopped practicing that technique, just stopped doing what I knew I should do, and, sure enough, my forehand went to hell. When I got into competing, I had to relearn my forehand all over again. Relearning was hard but it did make a huge difference in my game (Watch out Roger Federer!) On the other hand (no pun was intended!) I could have skipped that whole trying process by simply revisiting the technique and practicing the points on a regular basis. Learning it once is never enough.

This idea is the same whether it’s repeatedly reading books that teach you how to better your life, keeping up on a skill, or revisiting places or people that inspire and energize your spirit. These are all opportunities for learning that if we come back to over and over, we will not forget and will make practicing what we’ve learned a natural and habitual action.

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