How Determination Breeds Success: The Jennifer Capriati Example

Sam MContributor IAugust 12, 2009

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 10: Jennifer Capriati reacts reacts after winning a point against Elena Dementieva of Russia during the women's semifinal match of the US Open on September 10, 2004 at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York.  Dementieva defeated Capriati 6-0, 2-6, 7-6 (5). (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Over dinner last night, I was watching a program counting down the top 20 “Amazing Comebacks”. They did not have to be sports-related. Number 19 on that list was Jennifer Capriati.

Who could forget Capriati’s entrance on to the world tennis stage at the age of just 14, her well-documented personal troubles, and, of course, her later Grand Slam success at the Australian Open (2001 and 2002) and French Open (2001)?

As sports fans, these are the stories we love. Coming back from adversity and achieving success when everything looks like it’s falling in a heap.

Personally, in whatever field, I am motivated by people who have enthusiasm and are focused in what they want to achieve and the process they will take to avoid this continued failure.

Too many times we focus on the end product without considering the process along the way and the various hurdles and obstacles that had to be conquered to succeed.

Capriati would not have woken up one morning in the midst of her “down period” and had success overnight.

Those who battle through these “harder times” because of their passion, vision, and determination are inspiring.

Make the same adjustments in your life, whether this be sporting or otherwise.

If you’re struggling to hit that topspin, short-angled cross court forehand (like Nadal), have your coach work on it with you. Practice it over and over again with your mates and have the confidence to then try it in a match.

If you are after a promotion at work, inquire with a supervisor about your performance. What areas do you need to improve upon? Analyze how you can make the changes to improve and regularly monitor your progress. I bet you’ll get the promotion.

Neil Mattingley, my tennis coach when I was a junior, instilled in me the mantra “perfect practice makes perfect”. No one is born perfect. Things will not always go our way. But if we are determined, persist and willing to learn, success will come.

And, like Capriati, success in the face of adversity or after a setback, is always more satisfying.