Even if you are not a tennis fan, top performers can teach us important insights we can use to improve our daily lives.
Yesterday, Novak Djokavic defeated Roger Federer in just under 5 hours in the Men’s Wimbledon Final.
It was the longest Wimbledon final match ever played, and it was an epic classic by any definition.
Many of the requirements to win such a match – endurance, training, focus, and determination, are obvious.
However, one of the most powerful – and overlooked – lessons was described in Novak’s post-game interview, including a radical and powerful technique I would call “alchemy”.
There are many valuable lessons in Novak’s post-game interview and I highly recommend watching all of it.
For example, Novak talks about visualization – how he spent time before the match visualizing how he intended the match to progress, with him as the victor.
He talks about the battle within. Our real opponent is not something “outside”, it is only and always about what is happening inside.
In Novak’s words: “It’s really not the situations that you experience that are affecting you but how you internally experience those situations… how you accept them… how you live through them.”
He talks about self-belief. Even while Novak was down two match points, Novak never gave up belief. He never stopped believing that he could win.
One of the most important lessons was revealed around 8:30 in the interview.
It was no secret to anyone that most of the fans at Wimbledon were cheering for Roger Federer. They would chant his name, cheer when Novak made an error, and yell louder when Federer won points.
One of the media reporters asked if Novak could somehow channel the fans’ adversarial energy to his favor, despite the fact that most of the crowd was cheering for Roger.
In Novak’s words: “I try to transmutate [sic]it in a way. When the crowd is chanting Roger, I hear Novak”.
You’ll notice most of the people in the room respond to Novak’s response with laughter, almost dismissing it as a joke.
Even the reporter who asked the question asked Novak to clarify if he was intentionally using this as a mental training technique. Novak just smiled saying “of course”.
This lesson goes very deep.
Our ability to transmute negative into positive is one of the greatest lessons in life.
Imagine if, instead of insults, you heard praise.
Imagine if, when confronted with somebody’s bad attitude, you responded with empathy and joy.
Imagine if, when life’s troubles and obstacles confront you, you responded with gratitude rather than fear or anger.
This is alchemy.
This is how we transmute dark into light – the proverbial lead into gold.
Creating your own reality is not just about visualizing all of the wonderful things that are going to magically happen to you in the future, it is about witnessing your reality as it is, and choosing to interpret it as positive, even when (or especially when) something seems negative.
When we learn to transmute the most difficult moments in life into a positive, uplifting, and joyful experience, we have found “heaven on earth”. It is not something we create, it is something we choose.
If the crowd had been chanting for Novak instead of Roger, Novak might have lost. It might have inspired Roger to play harder.
We cannot always know why challenges and obstacles present themselves, but we can accept that they are there for a reason – a good reason, a positive reason.
Obstacles present us with an opportunity to be grateful for the challenge, not because we want to get something in the future, but because we want this moment, right now, to be wonderful.
In a separate interview on court, right after the match, Novak talks about how, as a young boy, he used to dream about winning Wimbledon. He would even make pretend trophies and carry them around as though he had won.
As parents we often dismiss our children’s fantasies and dreams without realizing they are quite likely acting out their soul’s mission.
Yet, all of the training in the world could not prepare Novak for a stadium full of fans who were cheering for the other player.
For that, he used alchemy.