How We Can All Be Champions in Our Own Lives

I was inspired to write this blog watching Serena Williams win the Wimbledon Women’s Singles and then a few hours later, she also landed the Women’s Doubles with her sister, Venus. Stunning. I was so impressed and it got me thinking about what REALLY makes someone so successful in their chosen field.

Yes, Serena does have some of the basics like a naturally strong physique. But that on its own hasn’t made her the winner that she is.

So what has? And what can we learn from her?

I would say (as a complete non-tennis aficionado) it is a combination of a few things that are in every one of us. She has just used those same inner resources to create the physical manifestation of a world class tennis player.

Those are the same resources I’m going to talk about that are also the ones that make you a great teacher or artist or engineer gardener or mum or mediator or whatever it is you want to do or be.

The first element is a vision. Whatever you want, you have got to REALLY want it. A clear vision – a clear picture of what you want is essential. Because that’s the thing that will draw you towards it. And in the case of Serena, I would imagine that she REALLY wanted to be a Grand Slam winner from very early on (I’ve heard she was playing tennis from four years old) – otherwise why would she put in the grueling hours of training unless it was in service of something really enticing and attractive?

You’ve got to WANT IT. I am talking as much about states of being as material successes here. If you want to develop a true spiritual path, then being a dilettante about it isn’t going to work!

Like the South Pacific song, “If you don’t have a dream, how’re you gonna have a dream come true.” One of the things we get to do in Insight is to find out what YOU really want, not what your parents or your partner or your social group think you should want. If Serena was only playing tennis because her family wanted her to do it, there is no way she would have had the success she has.

Once you know what you want, you need to commit to it and work with what gets in the way of that. What are the thoughts, beliefs, fears and anxieties that are holding you back? How do you address them? We all still have part of our brain that was forged in the Pleistocene Era when the world was full of scary stuff like sabre-toothed tigers, ice, famine, and flood. We developed the ability to always look for what was wrong. Having that kind of catastrophic brain worked for us back then, but it doesn’t work for us now.

So if Serena was focused on the potential problems in a match rather than keeping her focus in the present she just wouldn’t win!

All of us can learn how to manage our thoughts better and to challenge those fears. We do it in Insight – with compassion for just what it takes to be human.

It is not a linear journey – we are continually learning, growing, sometimes going back to square one but if we want to keep moving forward we will. I love this quote about commitment: from W.H Murray who led the Scottish Himalayan Expedition:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way”.

Coming back to tennis, nothing here is new – in fact, Timothy Gallwey’s 1972 best-seller, “The Inner Game of Tennis” talks about the battle that we all face within ourselves to overcome our doubts and anxiety and that a game of tennis is often won or lost before a ball has even been hit.

Not that any of this is easy. We know that. And that is why I keep putting myself in courses, trainings, counsellings; read books; talk to wise people to keep my inner game as positive as it can be. It is what I am committed to.

Paraphrasing Gallwey, we are so hard on ourselves, thinking willpower and positive thinking can get us part of the way. But nobody can maintain them consistently. I know I can’t! We need to give ourselves a break, be around people who will encourage and support us not push us to try harder. This is what the best tennis coaches do. Can we access our own inner coach (rather than our inner critic) that is always focused on the best of/for us? That is available to every single one of us. On an Insight course, we work specifically on accessing our own inner wisdom and self-compassion, AND that all-important element of simply being present.

Serena wouldn’t stand a chance if she wasn’t able to be fully and completely in the present moment. Just like Eckhart Tolle teaches in his book “The Power of Now”. How often are we fully present? If you are anything like me, definitely not as much as I’d like to be.

This is my invitation to you – come along to an Insight Seminar (the next one is September 29th – October 1st in Central London) and give yourself the opportunity to up your own inner game.

There won’t be strawberries and cream but there will certainly be great techniques and practices, world-class support and encouragement, ways of looking at yourself and your life that you have never experienced before. You’ll learn and you’ll grow and you’ll have three days you will never forget.

Call us on 020 3286 6036 or follow this link to book your tickets online!


Ginny Fraser is a coach and facilitator working with business leaders. She has also been facilitating with Insight since 1995. “Doing Insight was the most significant turning point in my entire life,” she says.