Achieving the ultimate goal of his career – what Murray’s Wimbledon win tells us about goal setting and feedback.

Achieving the ultimate goal of his career – what Murray’s Wimbledon win tells us about goal setting and feedback.

Andy Murray Bod
When Andy Murray won Wimbledon 2013 it was a historic sporting moment for Britain. It was the first win for a Briton for 77 years, and I can only imagine what it must have felt like for the man himself. The pressure and hopes of a whole nation resting on his shoulders, combined with his own personal determination and pressure must have been intense. Even Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy admitted ‘I have no idea how he deals with that expectation’.

To my mind, what makes the victory all the more impressive is that his efforts followed a disappointing defeat the previous year. However, Murray did not take the attitude of having tried and failed, he took that defeat as a starting point from which to set himself new and tougher goals. He acknowledged his weaknesses and worked on them, and played to his strengths and improved them. Clearly all his hard work paid off in a spectacular way.

I have never been any good at tennis (or any sport for that matter!), but it seems there is something important to learn from Andy Murray, something that all of us can apply to our careers, and even to our personal lives. What led to his success was the combination of a dream that he never let die, of hard work, and of the support and humility with which he listened to the feedback of those around him and used it to set himself goals to improve.

He also attributes his success to the way he applies his goal setting. Rather than simply concentrating on just the really big games, he says ‘I’ve realised that when I set myself short-term goals, I tend to play better tennis’. This is something we can all apply in our careers. Although you may know the perfect job for you, it takes setting smaller goals to achieve the steps that qualify you and give you the experience to get there. Good goal setting also gives you a sense of control over your career path and helps you grow.

After his straight sets victory of 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, Murray was quick to thank all those who had supported him. After thanking his coach Ivan Lendl for believing in him, he said ‘he stuck by me through some tough losses, he’s always been very patient with me […] he’s always been very honest with me and told me exactly what he thought’. That is what good leadership is all about – honesty, great feedback and encouragement. Success is reliant not only on your own hard work, but on your ability to take the feedback of those around you and use it to improve your game, whatever that game that may be. It is also important to make sure the feedback you give and receive is honest.

Accepting and really taking on board feedback that highlights any weaknesses you may have is a very positive thing. Murray was the first to admit that the road to triumph wasn’t an easy one. He told the Guardian that perseverance has been the story of his career, and with a private message from the Queen and talk of a knighthood from David Cameron, that perseverance has certainly paid off. Whether you are getting a knighthood, looking for promotion, or simply wish to be seen as a valued member of your team, perseverance and working hard to achieve your goals shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond said of fellow Scotsman Murray after the win ‘Everything about him is self-improvement and he deserves every bit of his success […] he is a different man out there, and he’s a different man to last year, he’s getting better all the time’.

Despite his talent and success, using his previous disappointments and feedback to improve and learn has paid dividends. Experts say he could become the highest earning British sportsman of all time.

Although most of us may never reach the dizzy heights of that kind of success, the application of determination, the humility to listen to feedback both good and bad, and the willingness to give credit to those who help you and teach you along the way will lead to personal successes in our own careers. Setting smaller yet challenging goals along the way will keep us on track and ensure that we can win the big games. As Murray’s manager Simon Fuller said ‘he’s proved himself to be a champion. Anything is possible’.

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