On Sunday, Angelique Kerber won her first US Open Title and earned her first-ever #1 world tennis ranking. At 28, she’s the oldest woman to ever achieve the #1 ranking for the first time.
Ever worry your ship already sailed without you?
Kerber’s path to the top reminds us that there is always another ship to catch. That is, if you keep playing.
She shows us that late bloomers aren’t just slow or lucky. They’ve been preparing for years, readying for their opportunities.
The dirty little secret.
But there is a secret no one ever mentions about champions like Kerber: the path to the top means losing and failing alot. More than most.
That’s why there are so few late bloomers. Most people think losing is for….losers.
Late bloomers either win or learn.
It was a long, long road to the top.
Kerber began her professional career in 2003 at age 15. It took her 13 years of consistent professional play to achieve #1.
Serena Williams was 20 when she received her first #1 ranking. Venus Williams was 21. Chris Evert was 20.
In the body-pounding world of professional tennis, you expect a 28-year old to be thinking about retirement, not achieving her peak lifetime performance.
It’s mindset, not talent, that makes most people miss their ship.
Most 28 year old tennis players – and many regular people like you and me – would convince ourselves the missed opportunity was lost forever.
If you rely on standard social norms of time and achievement, it’s easy to understand why they give up. For example, “I should have achieved XYZ by age 25 (or 40 or 60.) If I didn’t, I’m done.”
Kerber reminds us that we’re never done.
Until the last few years, she wasn’t even considered a top tier player. She’d never reached a Grand Slam Final before this season.
This year she played in three Grand Slam Finals and won two. Bam!
She made one small tweak.
This year, she decided to be more assertive. Into that expanded mindset, she poured her strength built from years of training and competition.
That little tweak created an expanded window for her well-developed talent to shine through, unrestricted.
Without the years of dedicated training, that little change would have probably meant nothing. But the training plus the mindset tweak launched her leap in performance to the very top.
Her ship hadn’t sailed, after all.
And neither has yours, unless you decide it has. You’ve done all of the training. What’s the next thing you’ll do with it?
Angelique Kerber could have easily told herself that 28 was too old to be #1. And she would have been right.
But she kept showing up. And showing up. And showing up. Until she caught the next ship.
What is your ship?
Every one of us has missed ships we’d hoped to catch. Those misses can be painful. Excruciating. We can convince ourselves that our ship has sailed without us.
Or, we can keep showing up. And showing up. And catch the next ship…or the next one…
Please leave a comment: What’s the ship you missed the first time(s) and how did you hang in there to catch it – or an even better one – later?