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Leadership and the French Open – Sometimes You Gotta Get Dirty

I am sure some of you clicked on this story with the hopes (or curiosity) that I might compare Gordon Gecko to all the cheating grunters on tour today. However, I am choosing the high road as always! The French Open is unique among tennis grand slams in that it is played on the dirt! French Open champions must commit to slip, slide, dive and sometimes unceremoniously fall to emerge victorious at the end of the tournament. And victors often do the equivalent of clay “snow angels” at the end of the tournament as a form of celebration.

So what are you prepared to do as a victorious leader?

  • Slide – You can always tell the naturals from the pretenders when it comes to clay court prowess. The naturals slide into their shots while remaining perfectly balanced. The “I can’t believe I have to play on dirt” crowd tries to daintily tiptoe around the court to maintain their balance. Ultimately, they slip and fall. Natural leaders do not fight their conditions and environment; instead, they embrace and adapt to them. Let criticism and trials slide off your back and remain in balance to execute your winning strategy.
  • Dive – Unlike hard courts, clay tennis courts provide a softer landing. Sure, you are going to get dirty, but that wholehearted commitment may be the difference between match point and break point! Great leaders are not diving around their organization haphazardly; however, they pick opportune times to be difference-makers with their employees and clients. Do not develop a hero-complex! You will burnout or cause injuries in the forms of stress. Great clay court players put in the work and preparation upfront, so they can stand upright to execute their winning strategy. They only dive to seize the moment. Be a sound leader everyday while looking for opportunities to seize the moment.
  • Celebrate – After the thousands of hours of preparation, the tense and competitive moments, the battles against exhaustion itself, and the execution of a great strategy with a hefty dose of luck on the side – one player stands victorious at the end of the French Open. What does that player do? Fall down, of course. It is time to shed protocol  and pride and simply celebrate the well-earned victory. Great leaders take the time to celebrate their victories. Really great leaders find ways to include their teams and pass the accolades to the team members. Be Human. Be Accessible. Do not be afraid to show some joy – it makes it easier to accept when you are showing “non-joy”! ;)

So, are you ready to get a little dirty on your way to victories through great leadership?

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and grandsons! My career has blessed me to the point I was able to start a new consultancy in 2018: Analytic Integrity. I look to provide analytic experience, and business integrity, to an Analytics world while helping data-driven organizations mature. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin.

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  1. I’m reminding myself to make a “clay angel” today :)

    • Hah, we’d all be happier if we made clay angels, huh? Gustavo Kuerten won the French Open several times. He would draw a big heart on center court to show the crowd he loved them – and the crowd definitely responded enthusiastically.

  2. Brian, aloha. Well done, Brian. To accomplish anything in life you have to be willing to get your hands dirty. Heck, doesn’t a great BBQ start with getting your hands dirty with the rub?

    As always, great analogies.

    So glad you emphasized celebrate. Too often people forget that celebrations are a part of the process. Yes, you may expect to win, however, you should acknowledge and appreciate the fact that you did. Let the universe know that you want more of that experience in your life.

    Best wishes to you, my friend, for a terrific weekend–playing tennis and grilling. Until next time, aloha Janet

    • Wow, great point about how dirty your hands can get putting a good rub on a brisket or pork shoulder prepping it for that Big Green Egg!!

      Some of us that never seem to be content with our performance need to remind ourselves to enjoy the celebration before “buckling down” and making a better solution!

      Thanks, Janet. Tennis is on a hiatus thanks to a badly sprained/torn hamstring this last Wednesday. Needless to say – blog post coming ;)

      Catch you at your place later, Janet.

      • Oh no, so sorry to hear it. Look forward to reading what happened. Hopefully, yu at least go the point!

        Nothing new over at my place. Soon. Soon.

        • Kris was a tad upset with me because it happened in the first game, and I played an entire set pretty much hopping on one leg (kinda went all Texan…where we forget that saying discretion is the better part of valor). I wanted to see if I could still break the guy, but he kept doing drop shots on me because he knew I couldn’t run. I cranked some winners and aces, but I couldn’t cover the court. Frustrated when I had to retire from the match.

          As you can guess, I hate giving up ;)

  3. You’ve done it again! Really enjoyed this connection!

    • Thanks, Janice. I love tennis. I actually plan on writing one more with a French Open theme…stay tuned!


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