Lessons to learn from Novak Djokovic

"I was born in a small country that has gone through difficult times in last few decades. It was during these periods of hardships that sports became an integral part of life. Everything changed for me when I saw Pete Sampras triumphed at Wimbledon. He became by idol and I dreamt to be just like him to be no. 1 tennis player in the world. It took me 13 years to achieve my goal. It was a long journey."

As I listened to Novak Djokovic speech at UN today on importance of sports for peace and development, I was taken away by the power of these simple lines spoken by this great champion on his life's journey. For people who doesn't know about his past, here are few refreshers. During the NATO bombing of Serbia, Djokovic and other young Serbian players used to practic in a drained swimming pool. He used to wake up at 3 a.m. in the night feeling uncertain about what the next day would bring and lived in constant fear of lives and many more other incidents.

So the million dollar question that comes up is then how did Novak Djokovic made it to the top of the throne inspite of such hardships and challenges. Was it luck, destiny or there was more to it? The way I see it, the recipe for success in case of Djokovic has been simple and can be easily broken in 4 steps:

  1. Goal Setting: If we read the above statement, it is clear that at the age of 4 itself, Djokovic had a clear goal and dream of following his role model ( Pete Sampras) and becoming Wimbledon Champion and no.1 in the world.

  2. Visualization: A little is known about the power of this technique which is also currently being used by many players in sports. When Djokovic was introduced to his first tennis coach in life,  Jelena Gencic , little did he know that he will be taught probably the most powerful technique in the world.  Djokovic would spent hours listening to Bach, Mozart and Beethoven and visualize  in his mind the images of winning Wimbledon and becoming the best player in the world.
  3. Hard Work and Self-belief: At the age of 12, Djokovic had a tough decision to make. Either stay in Serbia with his family  or go to Germany to play tennis. Staying in Serbia meant to forego his tennis career as it was impossible to train in  such harsh conditions of poverty and uncertainty . So he chose the latter one , thus separated from his family to go to Germany and started living on his own . He chose the life of hard work instead of easy one to make sure that he achieved his goals.
  4. Never give up: I believe the most important line in the starting statement of the article by Nole is that  it took him 13 years to achieve his goal. During this he faced hurdles and barriers deemed impossible by many. Still he never gave up on his dreams and continued to suffer, improve, adapt in order to make his dreams come true. This I think separates a champion from the rest of the field because a champion falls down seven times but gets up eight times to continue on his dreams.

As they say, you are who you are because of the choices that you make. Djokovic became who he is today because of the steps that he took since he was 4 years old. It took him 20 years to win his first Wimbledon title. Things were not easy but he still persisted. How many of us actually take the time down to write down our goals in life? Even if we have goals, most of us haven't even visualized ourselves achieving those goals. With constant hardships and obstacles, 90 percent times, we lose hope and start giving reasons for why we failed. It’s time to buckle up your shoes, get the dreams out of your closet and start working hard keeping in mind the eternal fact in life that resistance and hurdles are bound to come as without resistance, even the birds cannot fly  (the universal law of nature).

Today Novak Djokovic is not only Wolrd No.1 in the world but also  was the first player to break the dominance of Fedal. He not  only went on to achieve his goal of winning Wimbledon title in 2011 but also continues to inspire many fans around the world with his charm and work ethics. If I have to summarize his learnings in one sentence, I will just say:

"A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work" - Colin Powell.

If you have any questions, you can mail me at [email protected]
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