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9 Career Tips From Tennis Hero Roger Federer

Yes, it’s that Wimbledon time of year again! So, while we were eating our strawberries and cream team Angel got to wondering if there was anything we could take from tennis and apply to our careers – any excuse to watch Wimbledon!

Which took us to that best-loved of players Roger Federer. Adored on and off court Federer’s victory over Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open earlier this year made him the first man to register 300 Grand Slam singles match wins. Go Roger!

So, what career wisdom can we glean from this amicable tennis hero?

“There is no way around the hard work. Embrace it. You have to put in the hours because there is always something you can improve.” Tweet: There is no way around the hard work. Embrace it. @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView
Embracing the hard work required to get you from your career A to Z can be easier said than done, but understanding you can never cut corners to achieve your goals is key to success.

Speaking of goals…

“You have to believe in the long term plan you have but you need the short term goals to motivate and inspire you.” Tweet: You have to believe in the long term plan but you need the short term goals to motivate you. @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView
Every plan, big or small, needs both long and short term goals.

There’s no use aiming for a Michelin Star if you’re busy resenting the fact you’re flipping burgers in a greasy spoon right now. Set achievable goals along the way to boost your confidence muscles and track progress – don’t set yourself up to fail.

Take a look at our career goal-setting tips HERE

“What I think I’ve been able to do well over the years is play with pain, play with problems, play in all sorts of conditions.”

There’s rarely a perfect time for anything. Tennis players have to play through pain, so we have to work through bad times at home, troublesome workmates, uninspiring workplaces, looming deadlines and more.

That’s why you set your goals. Like a map those goals help you assess where you are now and help you get back on track or take a different route if needs be.

“Previously I always thought it was just tactical and technique, but every match has become almost mental and physical. I try to push myself to move well. I try to push myself not to get upset and stay positive, and that’s what my biggest improvement is over all those years. Under pressure I can see things very clear.”

In fact, continuously developing is key to remaining relevant in the fast paced workplace of today. Agility isn’t just for athletes, it’s for companies and their employees too.

Analysing performance is part and parcel of being a sportsman but it’s something we should endeavour to bring to our work outside of the yearly appraisal and without self-criticism.

With this in mind always look to see where you can improve, or update your skills.

“I enjoyed the position I was in as a tennis player. I was to blame when I lost. I was to blame when I won.”

Plus, taking responsibility for your own actions is a key part of being successful at work. That means taking the initiative, it means speaking up in meetings, it means showing up in every way (and on time!) – which can seem daunting to the best of us sometimes.

But, it also means:

“[W]e are giving ourselves the power to shape the outcome ourselves and are therefore taking an active and not a passive role in how the outcome turns out,” says Jeff Durham of

Which is empowering, right!?

“I don’t need to come back to Wimbledon every year because I can’t live without it. I’d be totally cool without tennis.”

While dedication is great, great sportsmen need career perspective. After all it’s often said that a sports star will die twice, the first time at retirement.

Federer, now 34, is continuously dogged about his inevitable retirement from the tennis he loves, but he’s put it in perspective. There are other things in his life.

For those of us totally committed to our careers we can perhaps understand this notion – indeed it’s not uncommon for people to lose a sense of identity at retiring, whatever the job.

Remember, not only do extracurricular activities make a more rounded employee, they also give you space to think and get perspective – even Einstein said he got most his good ideas sailing.

“Once you find that peace, that place of peace and quiet, harmony and confidence, that’s when you start playing your best.”

And, once you’ve got your career goals into perspective you can relax a little. Maybe you weren’t meant to be CEO by 30, perhaps you’re, in fact, amazing working in the field speaking directly to the clients who inspired you to take up this career in the first place?

Learning to understand how you work [and play] best means you can work in a way, or in a role which is right for you.

Enjoying your work and knowing you’re using your talents in the most effective and enjoyable way for you means you get into your career stride. Which allows you to shine more effortlessly.

That’s where knowing your values kicks in – check out our blog on values HERE

“I’ve always been aware that the image you patiently construct for an entire career can be ruined in a minute. It scares you a bit, but that’s the way things are.”

Hopefully, for most us out of the limelight, nothing so dramatic will ever befall us!

However, now that we’re self-promoting on social media our online presence is not only representative of us in the good times, but can actually haunt us for years to come – whether that’s from something we ourselves have posted or a review or comment from someone we’ve communicated with.

In fact mobile app Peeple advertised as “…a safe place to manage your online reputation,” now allows others to rate you professionally, personally and romantically – yep, we did say romantically!

While you may or may not choose to use the app keep in mind that what seemed far fetched in social media one year could be next year’s Facebook.

Plus, it hits home the need to treat everyone courteously, at all times, as Federer himself says: “I fear no one, but respect everyone.”

“At first I was terrified of the media and expected them to write bad things about me. I thought, why should I talk to them? I realised there that the media could help us players improve our image – and we could give them good stories to write.”

Yep, even a tennis hero has his fears! But instead of refusing interviews or grunting begrudgingly, Federer is famed for being approachable, affable and thoughtful in his dealings with the press.

Why? Because he turned the situation on its head and asked himself how he could use the media to his advantage. He gives good interview – in various languages – answers questions, dull and interesting, and makes sure he has something useful to say.

Whether it’s a fear of public speaking or simply dealing with that scary client more effectively we all need to face our career fears by turning them to our advantage. That might mean taking a speaking course, just doing it, or taking the emphasis off yourself and using the opportunity to promote great social care or technological advancement in your industry, say, with passion.

Next Steps: Where do you get your career inspiration from? How are your career goals shaping up? If you’re looking for a new role let us know!

Share your insights or ask us questions here using #AngelView and you could WIN Angel diary!
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