Rafa won for the 10th time, a historic day.

I’m not a great tennis player, sometimes I win my eldest son. For this reason, in this post, you won’t find a technical or tactical analysis of Rafa tennis strokes, but anexchange of views and lessons from an entrepreneur and coach about an idol. I’m not used to do that, but maybe I’m going to depart from my usual topics:

  1. Rafa is a hard worker… especially during his trainings sessions.
  • Why a manager or entrepreneur would not do the same with his teams and himself? To test negotiations in front of a mirror, the same as Rafa with his serves. To do role plays of discovering customer needs sales part again and again, also in details. Even if it doesn’t sound really “in”, after 8 years of practicing daily coaching in an international environment, I didn’t notice any successes without training. Work, work, work.
  1. Rafa has asolid inner game: during the tie break, his statistics are extraordinary. The same as his favourite football team, Real Madrid, he won the reputation he can still will until the last second. His mental strength is a key factor in success.
  • In companies, sometimes I notice excessive confort. “Well, we barely succeed our objective this month. We did 98% of it…” and then I ask them “Does water boil at 98º?” no. “and in 100º?” Yes. This is not the same. With 100º, it allows big machines to work; but with 98º nothing works.
  1. Rafa is well educated. It’s a small detail, but he has good manners and a certain elegance that allows him to move, even in an international and sometimes adverse environment (such as 2009-2014 in Roland Garros).
  • When I was watching the game on TV on Sunday at home, the phone rang. Without any preamble, I heard a voice saying:
    • “Adrien is not coming back before midnight”. I was a bit perplex.
    • “Who are you?”
    • “A scout colleague and we went out late from Pyrenees”.

Neither Hello, a presentation of himself and a goodbye. How many persons can we met that doesn’t use these basic requirements to build relations, and particularly when they go out of their village or country? And especially these “new” generations. Starting by the basics: “Good morning”, “please” and “thank you”: I wish I would be exaggerating, but I am afraid I am not..

  1. Rafa assumes his identity: In a country divided on its own identity, he doesn’t have any doubt on symbols of his country (flag, national anthem, Olympic games despite of his physical limitation…), he also contributes to his greatness. He is not ashamed. He roars. Rafa is strong.
  • In many political, social, universities environments, leadership is needed. For example, in Spain. Trump announced that he will leave the Paris Climate Agreement: some hours later the French president Macron did a public announcement. Where was Spain? Is Spain as strong as Rafa? Is there any glimmer of greatness?
  1. Rafa has a great respect about the history of his sport. He personally knows for example Rod Laver and also other players from the middle ranking in the 60’s.
  • Most of the entrepreneurs in the past, wanted to clean slate, particularly in the dotcom. Of course, entrepreneurs have to break with schemes and reinvent rules. Furthermore, the entrepreneur has to know the history of its discipline and therefore be respectful to his predecessors. This is the best way to become a successor.
  1. Rafa knows how to last: He has a very demanding physical. He plays against young talented players whose dream is to rob his position (Thiem, Zverev…) and other confirmed. Rafa stays above all. We saw many shooting stars in Roland Garros (Kuerten, Jim Courier…I liked both, but they stay at their maximum level only 3-4 years… Kurten because of his hip and Courier because of Pete Sampras and André Agassi growth. Rafa knows how to last.He won10 of his 13 participations in Roland Garros, and MonteCarlo and Barcelona… which is huge.
  • And your company knows how to keep the maximum level in case of it has already been reached? 50% of French and Spanish new business doesn’t reach the first year. Nowadays, staying alive and last in a changing environment is one of the challenges.
  1. Rafa knows to lose: he doesn’t like it, but he knows how to accept it. In search of continuous improvement, he knows how to learn from it and to find areas of improvement.
  • I don’t know any successful person that has always won. We have to know how to lose and learn from defeats, to win the next time?
  1. Rafa has a coherent and unequivocal nonverbal. Intimidating, of course. When he runs like a jaguar from the baseline at the beginning of the game and on each change, or when he looks at his opponent with its black look. Rafa cultivates his legend. He is there. His nonverbal transmits that he is here to 1 thing: to win !
  • In coaching sessions, I observe managers saying that they want to succeed, but withtheir nonverbal they transmit the contrary: a muffled voice, arms folded, shifty eyes… Coaching is also useful for that and I am sure that Rafa has very good coach(es).
  1. Rafa knows his body; before his 1st and 10th victories in Roland Garros, Rafa suffered several physical problems (knee, wrist and much more). He knows how to listen to his body and to fix it. He takes care of his hygiene.
  • In the research of performance, despite of the everyday intensity and stress of many of my readers in the entrepreneurial environment, the body is not always valued as it must be; this neglect appears in different ways, overweight, lack of strengthening, tiredness, a high consumption of cigarettes… Body, language and emotion are the 3 keypoints of changing.
  1. Rafa is authentic. Of course, his tics and obsessions could lead to jeers; when he getting ready for service (his underpants, combs his hair behind his ears), when he sits on his chair (his 2 towels, his 2 bottles,…). Some of my good friends reminds me this, when we speak about this topic. But he just abstracts from all of this, because for him there are not tics, only rituals. These RITUALS keephim focused, concentrated. Those rituals calm him.
  • Many persons and organizations live without any ritual to focus on and give a rhythm on the operations. Individual rituals as much as the collective ones are activities that wealways do at the same time and the same way (meetings, briefings….). they represent emotional anchors.
  1. Rafa is loyal. He has the same girlfriend, the same coach since its beginnings. (true that Tony distanced a bit, but he is still in the team).
  • I noticed that organizations dedicate a lot of time to renew their staff. They dedicate their energy to recruit and not to develop. The loyalty in businesses… looks like old fashioned. Rafa shows us that it can be an additional value very up to date.
  1. Rafa has a clan: All of the Majorcan people.
  • And you do you have a clan? As an entrepreneur, manager or teacher… Do you have an unconditional group that supports you in the good as much as in the bad?
  1. Rafa can bite; when a French ex minister Roselyne Bachelot, with an absolute neglect, mention his doping on radio, he decided to sue her: “Verdict the 7th of July 2017 at Paris law court!”
  • The tiger doesn’t prevent, he jumps. I knew a lot of managers, very good on analysing and very slow on taking decisions and… bitting. Being respected implies to bite.
  1. Rafa knew how to reinvent himself: when the results abandoned him especially in 2015, he changed his technique, and particularly his right (beside taking care of his wrist). He has been isolated for 6 months.
  • A winning model may need big or small adjustments. A company, a couple… How would you reinvent yourself for further progress?
  1. Rafa has a project: he thinks about the future. His “Rafa Nadal Academy” is important for him. Even Rafa, one day, will have to quit the competition. He is not waiting the end of his career to think about the future (and to invest his money).
  • I worked in companies without projects, that waited until the end to start to react (Kodak). What a lack of vision! I knew founders of big companies incapable to renew. My 2 countries France and Spain have recently celebrated elections. I don’t remember having heard projects for 2025 or vision 2030. (even if Macron is surprising me!)
  1. Rafa a is a good citizen (or looks like). His fiscal residence is the European Union, Spain and not Switzerland, Monaco or Doha like many other tennis players. Until we prove me the opposite, Rafa is coherent.
  • It’s interesting to see that sometimes in a culture where there is corruption… someone reach the success following the rules; all the rules.
  1. Rafa respects his opponents. This is not the case in other sports (football, …). If 2000-2020 will stay as the best years of tennis history, it’s because the biggest opponents knew how to respect and to take this sport to another level, to another galaxy. Together.
  • The kite needs front wind to fly. The opponents bring, help and also contribute to this sector. I increasingly observe more and more collaboratives and associatives in this meaning. It sounds like a deep movement in companies and in the society.

17 lessons in the enthusiasm of the victory that I wanted to share. And when I see the second youth of Roger Federer and Rafa with 31, something tells me that we still have a lot to enjoy.

Benoit  Mahé
CapKelenn Founder


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