He’d come back from being the runner-up against Federer in the same tie last year and, not only did he beat the world’s number one, Novak Djokovic, he did it in 3 sets and put an estimated £1.6m in his bank account as a result.
Not too shabby, eh?
And, if you’re either just starting a new business or are aspiring to do so, here are some lessons I think his example offers:
Own your ambition
Murray was playing tennis from about the age of three. Ten years ago he won the US Boys’ Title. After which he said: “I think I have got a chance of going all the way in tennis and that’s what I want to do.”
Get a great team around you
Murray was doing okay. By 2006 he’d succeeded Tim Henman as the most successful British player, and he’d won some tournaments, including the San Jose title.
But in truth he was neither Mr Muscles, Mr Calm or even Mr Likeable. Nor was he winning the big name titles he was hungry for.
Late December 2011, ending his fifth year in a row as world number 4, he hired Ivan Lendl as his coach. Alongside Lendl, he has Jez Green, his fitness coach, and Dani Vallverdu, his hitting partner. Working with them, he has made adjustments to his fitness regime and his game. Adjustments that have allowed him over time to develop his strength and his composure. And his results.
Meanwhile his PR people, Louise Irving and Matt Gentry, have been helping him get the word out on who he is in a different way.
And his mother Judy, who in the beginning taught Murray how to play, and girlfriend Kim are also never far away.
As the leader of a start-up, it’s often tempting to bootstrap and invest as little as possible in its support and development. But is that the right move?
Sure, it might be if you just want to do okay. But if you don’t want to leave success to chance, think about who else you need to surround yourself with.
Who is going to teach you things beyond what you can do right now in a way you can leverage for results? What other talent do you need to invest in?
Understand and embrace your competition
To win Wimbledon, Murray had to take on a number of other excellent players, including the world’s number one. In fact over the years he’ll have been watching how they play in order that he can match and indeed beat them.
There’s sometimes a concern in business that competition is bad. But it’s not. It’s good. It shows you there’s a market for what you’re doing. Imagine Murray was as good as he is and yet no-one else was playing?!
So, don’t be afraid or your competition. In fact, go find who and what it is, and what’s great about it. What are they doing that’s making people buy them? Then figure their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Things you can exploit and develop. Then, go do it.
Don’t let disadvantage or hard times psyche you out
Murray was a child at school at the time of the Dunblane massacre, managing to hide as sixteen other kids were killed. And if that’s not big enough shit to deal with, his parents divorced when he was young. When he hit his glass ceiling in 2011, he could have – and may have – blamed it on any number of things. But he didn’t. He lived in the present, took a day at a time, and built himself and his strength.
I sometimes hear from small business owners who aren’t doing so well or are having a bit of a wobble that “it’s alright for others” whom they imagine to have had privileged backgrounds or cushy upbringings. But Murray proves that bad things can happen to you and that you can still win through.
So, if you’re talking yourself down because life has been cruel, change your tack.
The past is the past. You can do nothing with it. But you do have today. Use it.
Slow down to speed up
It was wonderful to watch Andy play yesterday. There were times when Murray was ahead and yet Djokovic looked like he could get back in the game, and where Murray needed to be sure to win. He could have, on serving and returning, acted quickly and tried to close the game down. Instead he slowed things down.
He took time to gather himself around his service. Played long volleys.
Being patient, he won the game.
There’s a temptation too in business to do things quickly. To close the sale. Agree the deal. But sometimes moving too quickly means we end up with sub-optimal results. The design that would have been just that bit better had we given it another few days. The client who doesn’t really match our brand values and who sucks our time or erodes our profits.
Quieten your mind
This has got to be the single biggest improvement I’ve seen Murray make over the last year. A year ago, Federer had him rattled, and didn’t we know it. He was grumpy out there on Centre Court. You could almost see him beating himself up as he made one unforced error after another.
Yesterday, he was so much more composed.
Sure, he was losing points. But I had the sense that he wasn’t making anything of that. So, he was just losing points. He was not – at least viewed from the outside – interpreting from that that he was a loser. And, then, turning himself into a loser.
He lost points, yet kept going. His mind seemed more quiet and he stayed in the flow of the game.
In business, it’s easy to get rattled if things go wrong. Especially if we’ve spent a lot of time learning the skills, or developing the competence to be able to do whatever. But skills and competence are only part of the picture. The ultimate business success game is won or lost in your mind.
What does Andy Murray teach you?
So, those are the things that occurred to me.
But how about you? What does Murray teach you about running your own firm? And how will you implement it?