Dig Deeper – When Sports Emulates Business

I’m a big tennis fan and have been enjoying the Australian Open the last two weeks. It’s the first leg of the four grand slam tournaments of tennis (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open).  This tournament had a number of story lines, but none better than the men’s final of Roger Federer of Switzerland vs Rafael Nadal of Spain.
 
Dig deeper was the theme of the match.
 
A brief recap of the action to make my point: Momentum changed numerous times throughout the 5 set match, culminating with Federer winning the match in 3 ½ hours. Throughout the Federer-Nadal match, the courtside announcers kept referring to both men as “digging deeper”.  Time after time, they came up with remarkable shots and grit to win a point. Just when you thought the match was going one way, the other would pull off a shot and the entire momentum would change again. They kept digging deeper to find the resilience to pull off the point.
 
Business is no different, is it?  Full of ups and downs - swings of momentum - calling on us to "dig deeper" in order to win.
 
Where did the ‘deeper’ come from for these athletes?  I believe they had a clear vision of what they wanted along with months and months of physical training, practice, and mental preparation to reach the goal they were aiming for – the Australian Open Title.  It’s hard to realize a goal if you haven’t defined it and built a reservoir of belief to dig into in order to achieve it when the circumstances of life say ‘no way’.
 
But dig deeper for what?  What are you chasing?  That is the power of a BHAG™ (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), tagged by Jim Collins in the book Good to Great.  A BHAG (or vision) gives everyone in the company an overarching goal the company is striving towards, and when it gets tough or confusing, you ‘dig deeper’ to continue the march towards the BHAG.  A BHAG defines where the company wants to be in 10 to 30 years, and what it looks like when you arrive.
 
Identifying, articulating, and measuring progress towards this BHAG has the power to capture your team’s hearts and minds. To rally them to think, plan, act, learn and prepare long term. Inspire them to perform at a high level on an ongoing basis and build the reservoir of belief to achieve that company BHAG. You know that seemingly impossible dream...like winning a Grand Slam - at 35 no less!
 
Both Federer and Nadal had to overcome significant injuries over the past 24 months to get back into championship form, at an age that everyone said was "too old" to win.  So what do you need to overcome against all odds to achieve the success? What's the BHAG that you aspire to? 
 
Remember, if you don’t define it and measure it, you’ll never achieve it.  
Tennis anyone?
 

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*BHAG is a trademark of Jim Collins, author of Good to Great