Failure is not something one desires but then life doesn’t always impart its lessons in the most pleasant manner. I know this from personal experience because some of the most important lessons I have learnt were only made possible due to less-than-ideal situations. I am a perfectionist and strong work ethics has usually been one of my defining personality characteristics. It was only natural that my strong work ethics applied to tennis as well. Due to my young age and inexperience, I was convinced that hard work always leads to success and failure only implies lack of talent in the individual.
In high school, I was invited to participate in a tennis tournament. I practiced hard for the tournament and was quite confident of my successes. While I did win first game in the tournament, my fortunes reversed in the next game and I lost badly. If it was a close game, I might have found the courage to cope with the loss but my opponent totally dominated me and it was not even a close call. The loss totally shattered my self-confidence and I decided to leave tennis forever. My competitive nature meant I could not bear the thought of being beaten like this again.
I am fortunate to have a father who has been a close friend first and a parent second. Like a good friend, he could always tell when I am not my usual self and there may be something bothering me. I used to play tennis at a local club at least four days a week. When I didn’t go to the tennis club for about a week, my father realized something must have happened because I was otherwise in optimal health. When he asked me, I told him how I had worked so hard yet beaten down so easily. Since I have realized my limitations in tennis, it is better that I leave it and focus on other things.
My father was also a great teacher in addition to being a good friend. He reminded me how I had once struggled in science subjects and believed I could never be good at them but through a combination of hard work and perseverance, I overcame my weaknesses. My father reminded me that hard work is important but it alone is not enough. Perseverance is as important as hard work if not more because life is a marathon and not a sprint. My father also reminded that failure is not facing a disappointment but giving up in the face of a disappointment. In addition, our limits are not fixed but can be extended through determination and hard work. I knew my father would never say a thing he doesn’t mean, thus, I took his advice to heart and decided to restart my love affair with tennis.
I hired the services of a tennis coach at the club and asked him to pinpoint my weaknesses so that I could work on them. I also requested him to make a video of my mistakes so that I could watch them later. In addition, I also subscribed to a tennis magazine and started reading more and more tennis experts tips online. In just a month, I had significantly improved my games and my progress even took me by surprise.
This experience taught me several valuable lessons. First of all, Thomas Edison was right when he said genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Second, our limits are not fixed as long as we are willing to learn and improve. Third, one never becomes perfect and there is also room for learning and improvement. Fourth, self-confidence should be protected at all costs because self-perceptions shape individual actions. When I thought I had reached my limits in tennis, I gave up. But my father convinced me that was not the case and I started working harder than ever because I told myself I could improve.