Federer Reveals a New Facet

Mahesh S BharadvajContributor IFebruary 28, 2009

These are not days of Grand Slams and to make it worse, the top seeds have unceremoniously pulled out of the Dubai Open. In times like this, when there’s not much happening in Tennis world, we tend to miss whatever little being said and done.

A few quotes here and there come as a silver lining in an otherwise dull stage. I realized though what I came across was not just a silver lining but a lightning statement. It kindled many a thoughts and a touched a nerve in me.

Fed was asked whether he plans to work on his weaknesses. Fed gave a great response to it. If you thought Fed was going to work on his weaknesses, you got it wrong, mate. Fed simply said “I have never believed in working on my weaknesses. I have worked on my strengths to get better".

What a way to put it. That was one big loaded statement. One could read not just lines, but chapters into it.

What Fed said is a universal statement not just limited to the Tennis world. It could mean many things to many people. How many of us go through the yearly rigors of performance appraisal and asked to list our strengths and weaknesses.

How many times have been asked what we plan to do to work on our weaknesses. I am not sure anybody ever asked me to work on my strengths!

The point, of course, is not that you ignore your weaknesses and turn a blind eye to it. It’s one thing to know your strengths (and weaknesses) and another thing to take advantage of your strengths (or let others take advantage of your weaknesses).

Fed had said that his strengths were his serve and his forehand, and that’s what he seeks to keep working on before the next slams of the year get nearer.

Fed, for example, will know that his long-time opponents (likes of Nadal, Safin and Djokovic) might tend to take advantage of his weaknesses – assuming they found any – and have a strategy around it each time he faces them. But, that’s beside the whole point.

Great people succeed in the end because they recognize their own strengths and more importantly work hard on their strengths so they can rely on them more often and more successfully.

We live in a world where no resource (including time) is available for free. It’s imperative to rationalize time and optimize your efforts and that’s where it matters most. What a disaster it would be not to take full advantage of one’s strengths and rather work on weaknesses.

What Fed said reminded me of a book titled “Talent is never enough” by John C Maxwell, which I was reading recently.

John seeks to make a point that you develop the talent you have and not the one you want. He goes on to assert that he teaches people to stop working on their weaknesses and to start working on their strengths.

Where your natural talent in an area is 4 (on a scale of 1 to 10), you might be able to increase it through hard work to 6. Someone who’s at 7 might be able to improve through exceptional hard work to say, 9. This is as compared to improving on a weak point from below average to just about average.

I like to wind up by saying that there is a take away here for those of us who seek to improve their own lives and those who have a mission to accomplish.