Hey guys, how’s the new world looking? Still a bit weird, no? I have been working from home for close to a year now. I must say, I am forgetting what office interactions look like without talking to each other through computer screens. I have also forgotten what wearing pants to work is like. I am serious. I won’t be wearing pants anymore after this – saves a lot of time in the morning.
I won’t lie that I have not felt like a 100% these past few days. I don’t know why. Maybe I do but, it will be a bit much to offload them all here – to the point that Google search engine might start recommending a list of therapists near me. Instead, I have been doing a lot more introspecting; looking for the reasons for my meh-ness and more importantly, how to get back on track. I can’t recall how I found it, but I’m glad I did. Turns out that there’s nothing that a documentary about the GOAT, Serena Williams couldn’t fix. It’s called Being Serena. I recommend everyone, and I mean E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E who wants to be the best in the world at their craft, to watch it.
People admire her achievements but often overlook the amount of work and sacrifices required to be where she is now. Maybe tennis is not your craft but the lessons are transferable and inspiring all the same. Here are the things I learned:
- Know the price you need to pay to be successful then, DECIDE if you are ready to pay that price. Once you decide that the price is worth paying, keep at it until either you achieve it OR, it no longer is what makes you tick every single day
I admire the sheer determination Serena has to be at the top of her game – despite what people have been saying about her age, body image, and role as a mom. She won her 23rd Grand Slam title in 2017 while pregnant with the baby and was back on the court after a year of maternity leave. The documentary showed the intense training Serena went through to get back into the game even though she didn’t win right away and had a few losses. She also didn’t get to protect her ranking. And despite all of the hurdles, Serena kept at it. In many ways, she made me realize that you only really lose when you stop trying.
- When people cross the line or treat you unfairly, call it out
She can be quite vocal on the court, but I liked the instance when she called her coach out as he implied that she was not giving it her all during her training. She confronted him and stood her ground by saying when Serena shows up, she gives her all every single time.
- Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you
I loved the scene when she had a call from Sheryl Sandberg giving her a pep talk before her comeback after the baby. Serena’s sister, Venus – another cheerleader of hers, is also a professional tennis player. There were many moments when they went head-to-head on the court but trained together side by side. There was also a scene where Serena was hanging out with Caroline Wozniacki, another professional tennis player, and they were exchanging words of encouragement with one another. Even when she was not allowed seeding, so many of her competitors spoke out against it.
Serena’s dad is also an inspiring person. The way she told the story about her dad was very heart-warming. To have someone who believes in you even when you weren’t even sure of yourself feels great. I am beyond thankful to have such support from my dad too. Her husband, Alexis Ohanian who is the founder of Reddit, definitely understands hard work in different ways from being an entrepreneur himself, hence why he’s super supportive of her. And he found so many different ways to show what a sweetheart he is. He put up billboards along the way to the Indian Wells Championship to cheer her on. Now the bar is really high for Mr. Nadia Ismadi. #goodlucktoyousir
I also love the relationship she has with her coach. His “tough love” can be quite endearing sometimes.
- You achieve great things when you do what you do, for reasons far more important than just yourself
I teared up when she said, “I do what I do in the hope that it inspires some people in the crowd to put their kids into tennis because that was how my dad decided to put us into this.” That resonated with me so much because one of the reasons I do what I do is with the hope that some people out there who felt like they couldn’t do it; saw me and thought: “if she can do it, so can I.”
- Preparedness and post-mortem
She said she feels most confident when she comes prepared. It is something that, if I am honest, I tend to overlook sometimes. Amid chaotic days, trying to firefight all the time and solving 1001 problems concurrently, I tend to “wing it” sometimes. And that’s just me being undisciplined and unmethodical. Another crucial thing is post-mortem. Serena said she picks everything apart after losing a match to see what went wrong. I am quite good at this. Typically, after investors’ pitches. Mainly to criticize myself but importantly, to be objective with the rejections and failures. I believe understanding why things didn’t work help success be replicable and a bit more predictable.
p/s: If you were to take a sip every time I say “firefight,” then your bladder would burst before we even finish all the blog posts on this site. Note to self: find the synonyms to the word “firefight.”
All in all, what an inspiring documentary! Probably my new pick me up after a long, hard day.
To Serena: however weird ways you came across this piece, I want to thank you. Thank you for fighting really hard every single day to prove to the world that there’s no limit to what we can do when we set our mind to it. Even when you’ve added new roles into your life, you still fight to be the best in the world at your craft. So no excuse for the rest of us, really. And all the best in the journey towards your 24th Grand Slam title!