It will have escaped no one’s attention that last Saturday saw the birth of a new sporting superstar, as Emma Raducanu became the first qualifier in history to win a tennis Grand Slam. As an avid tennis fan, her victory in the US Open was exhilarating to say the very least but, at just 18 years of age, we may rightly wonder what Raducanu can possibly teach us more experienced folk about career success, when she is still just making her first steps. Rest assured, we have lots to learn from her glorious victory and just how this can translate across to our own journeys.
It’s hard to believe now that just over two months ago Emma was on the receiving end of some harsh comments following her exit from the Wimbledon quarter finals (I’m looking at you Piers Morgan and John McEnroe, to name but two). But she has indeed gone on to provide her critics with the best possible response. Whatever job you do, the truth of the matter is that there will always be times when, for whatever reason, things don’t go the way you want. Yet I am a firm advocate of using reflection to learn from the past - nothing needs to be a mistake or a failure if we are prepared to grow from it.
Emma’s path to the winner’s trophy, done without dropping a single set along the way, can largely be credited to her aggressive and attacking style of play. Fortune certainly favoured the brave and, in my opinion, it was her ability to play a fearless first few games in her opening Finals set that set her apart from her opponent. Similarly, in our careers, we must take risks if we are to progress. Respect is earned from those who are prepared to put themselves out there and work hard for reward in spite of the risks that this opens up along the way.
Love what you do
The world has fallen in love with a young lady who, evidently, is driven by her love for the game. Her refusal to be anything but true to herself is something we can only fully manage when we are a genuine and convincing match (no pun intended) to the job we do. Understanding your own career values and drivers, and playing to these, is oh-so important. Getting this right is ultimately what enables us to be really happy at work.
Recognise the work of your team
Tennis may appear to be an individual sport, but success is dependent on a much wider support network. Raducanu has always been quick to applaud the hard work of her team in post-match interviews and TV footage of her matches has shown clearly that they are a tight-knit bunch. Being a narcissist or a glory seeker is rarely a successful long-term strategy, whether that’s on the tennis court or in the boardroom. Real success is heightened by having trusted people around you and by involving them in your collective victories.
Timing is everything
Raducanu sensibly waited until her A levels were over before pursuing her tennis career full time. This has meant that not only has she developed the maturity needed to handle top level tennis but that having 2 impressive A levels behind her means that there will always be other options. (Don’t worry Emma – something tells me you’re not going to need these!) Quite simply, she got the timing right. In a world where career change becomes more and more commonplace, this is an important principle to follow. It is not so much about finding ‘the right job’ as it is finding ‘the right job for you now’. Success comes from understanding how a particular career – or even just a job change - suits a particular point in your life.
The last week in sport has done a lot to prove that the unexpected is possible. So as the world waits to see what Emma Raducanu can achieve next, think about what you can learn from her story to help you call ‘game, set and match’ on your own career goals.
Momentum Careers Advice is based in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, local to St Albans, Harpenden, Hatfield, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City, but can provide careers advice, guidance and support via Skype, across the UK and beyond