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Manage Your Career Like a Tennis Champion

I’m a huge tennis fan, and an even bigger Rafa Nadal fan. While everyone else was enjoying a quiet Sunday morning, I was riveted to the tennis channel watching Nadal win another tournament. However, I’m not a Rafa super-fan because he wins…I’m a Rafa super-fan because of HOW he wins.

It’s easy to love and admire a champion on top of the world. Nadal has been winning for years, has crushed numerous records, and has regained his status as number one in the world…but that’s not why he’s my favorite. Every player has a forehand and a backhand, but it’s all of the other intangibles that set him apart and make him a champion, a legend, and one of the all-time greatest tennis players ever.

As an executive career coach, Nadal embodies the greatest lessons when it comes to dominating, enduring, and achieving success in any career. If you want to “win”, you don’t need to look any further than Rafa Nada on a clay court.

3 Ways to Manage Your Career like a Tennis Champion:

1. Work at Your Work Ethic

It’s take a lot of work to get to the top, but even more work to stay there. Rafa is known for his tireless work ethic. He trains harder, practices longer, treats every match like a final, and plays every point like it’s match point. Can you say the same? Do you prepare for every interview like it’s your dream job? Do you lead every meeting like it’s a world peace summit? Remember that “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” You may not always win, but you can always out-work your competition.

2. Master Your Mindset

No matter the score, a true champion always believes he/she can win. You may be down, but you’re never out. Even if your opponent is ranked higher, is expected to win, or has the best slice on the circuit, it’s your belief and confidence in your abilities, in your game, and in your mindset that makes the difference. Do you self-sabotage knowing you don’t have 100% of the job description? Do you believe your colleague is going to get the promotion, so you back out? Master your mindset and strengthen your belief and you will be raising the championship trophy.

3. Raise Your Resilience

Nadal goes into every match with a game plan, and it’s the ability to course correct throughout the match that makes him a champion. You thought the backhand was going to be the winning shot, but it’s error after error and you’re losing. What do you do? That’s when you dig deep and find solutions to the problem. You never give up! You have Plans A, B, C, and beyond. Your well-planned meeting has been derailed, what do you do? The technology goes out on your brilliant PowerPoint presentation, what do you do? Your ability to rise above adversity and thrive amid challenges is what’s going to get on that leader podium.


Not everyone is cut out to be an elite athlete, but we can all learn from one. Rafa Nadal is a shining example of what it takes to be a true champion in any industry, in any profession, and at any level. Many believe success is all about core competencies and industry expertise, but it’s those intangible and internal qualities and characteristics that are going to elevate you to championship status. You have what it takes to be a winner and to Woman UP!

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