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Boris Becker, Novak Djokovic and the art of winning: Can Executive coaching help you reach peak performance?

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A lot of you who read my blogs may not be aware that I am an avid tennis fan. Growing up in Dehra Dun in the campus of the Forest Research Institute (FRI) I was lucky to have access to a number of open grounds with two big football field size grounds outside my house. With the advent of TV and live telecasts (only of Wimbledon) I got hooked to tennis and watched a number of epic matches including the ones featuring Roscoe Tanner, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. With two left handers in the list on whom I modelled my game you can easily guess that I am a lefthander. Those were heady days, where a group of kids would mark out a tennis court in a grassy field, use rope and thread to set up a net and try to emulate all the greats we watched on TV. Needless to say, my game did not reach great levels of competence as my coaches would come on TV once a year, so I had to wait for a year to correct whatever flaws were there in my game.
Later in life, while undergoing a certification in coaching with the International association of coaching (IAC) tennis and coaching came together again. Krishna Kumar, the president of the IAC was talking about the “Flow” state and he introduced the classic book on tennis coaching to the group, Timothy Gallway’s “The Inner game of tennis”, a book I had read a number of times in my life while trying to improve my game of tennis. The book talks about the mental side of peak performance and is recommended reading for any aspiring coach. So are Tennis and coaching related? Why am I writing about tennis in what is normally a professional blog?
As a few of you may have guessed, this blog is not about tennis but about peak performance. It is also about how a coach can help you reach there. Executive coaching is the method of choice for business leaders who want to go beyond the ordinary.
A number of blogs and articles have appeared on linked in about what is executive coaching and what executive coaches do, so I will not cover these aspects in detail in this blog. The things I want to highlight are:
a. Needing an executive coach does not mean that you are not performing, it means that you are performing, but possibly not at your peak.
b. The coach helps you reach peak performance, he/she does it through challenging your limiting assumptions and help you go beyond the boundaries you have set for yourself.
I will be picking up the example of Djokovic and the difference that Boris Becker as a coach has made to the results that he has achieved. When Djokovic burst on the scene in world tennis he was heralded as the next big thing, although soon his lack of focus and the tendency to throw matches were overshadowing his talent. He had the ability to compete with the best but somehow always came up short when it mattered. When Boris Becker became his coach in Dec 2013, Djokovic was already performing at a very high level and had won six grand slam titles. But the number tell the story of what value a coach brings to a relationship. Djokovic’s winning percentage before Becker’s arrival was 80.4 percent. Since Becker’s arrival, it is 91.7 percent.
An 11.3 % improvement you would say, nothing great. Let me put this 11% in perspective. In a grand slam tournament of tennis, to win the final, you have to win 7 matches. At 80% you win 5.6 matches of all the ones you play in a grand slam tournament, at 91.7% you win 6.4 matches. Winning the one extra match is the difference between winning a tournament and finishing runners up. Since taking Becker as his coach, Djokovic has won five out of the seven grand slam finals he has played including the French Open, a tournament he had never won before; before Becker he had won six out of 12. In the immediate run-up to reaching out to Becker Djokovic had won just one out of five slam finals. Incidentally, the grand slam record was marred at Wimbledon 2016, where he lost to Andy Murray, who had reunited with the Ivan Lendl, who had coached Murray to two grand slam titles and an Olympic medal earlier.
So if you are a high performing executive and want to reach your peak performance, reach out and find an executive coach who will help you achieve more than you have ever imagined. Coaches are not paid to be nice, so be prepared to challenged and be pushed out of the cocoon of comfort that all of us build around ourselves.
Feel free to reach out to me in case you feel you need to know more on the process of executive coaching.
Rajiv is the principal consultant at R Square Consulting. Rajiv can be reached at rajiv@rquareconsult.in for any query, discussion or professional requirements.
About R Square consulting: R Square consulting provides end to end services in the field of building leadership and managerial capability to include leadership development interventions based on a holistic blend of exploration, reflection, action learning, executive coaching, assessment centers and various Organizational development interventions.
R square consulting provides customised and holistic HR interventions for developing the human capital of an organization through:
Executive Coaching
Assessment and Development Centers
Organizational Development Interventions
Leadership and managerial development
Flexi HR support for SME
Pune: Mumbai: Dubai: Dehra Dun

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