More on Preparation: What Really Separates the Very Best

By: Martin Grunburg

An Enlightening Stroll Along the Sammamish River Trail

Recently, I had the great fortune of walking along the Sammamish River Trail in Washington State with a legendary performer, one of the greatest professional tennis players in history. A legend so revered in his home country of Australia that he has an arena named after him – Rod Laver Arena! (btw: The Australian Open is happening now at RLA)

As we strolled along the picturesque river trail, Rod began by talking about today’s great male tennis players Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. I couldn’t help but ask what Laver thought made him so great. “Oh,” he said, as though the thought hadn’t ever occurred to him (he’s now 76 years old). “I was just fortunate to play my best when it mattered most.”

I chuckled a little as I reflected on the statement and Rod’s nonchalant demeanor. “Really?” I thought to myself. “I’m sure a lot of people would like to know how they can be so fortunate.”

I couldn’t hold myself back. “So, what do you attribute that to? Why do you think you played your best tennis when it mattered most?”

“Concentration.”

One word – no hesitation. He didn’t deliberate or elaborate, and unfortunately I wasn’t smart enough at the time to follow up, as our conversation organically shifted to several other topics.

The following day, I realized my mistake. I had to revisit the conversation – I needed his answer. As I thanked him for his time and insight the previous day, I said, “Rod, do you recall how you’d mentioned that concentration was responsible for you being ‘fortunate’ to win the big matches when it mattered most?” He smiled and nodded.

“So, I have to ask you then, sir, what does concentration mean to you?”

“Preparation.”

As perfunctory as he was the prior day.
I hesitated. This time I was totally confused. Honestly, I was caught off guard by his reply. I said a quick “thank you” and “perfect,” but I had no clue what his response really meant. I had to sleep on it. I dwelled upon his comment for a few days.

“Preparation, preparation, preparation.” I kept thinking about it.

Then it hit me.

Of course! Preparation is a form of concentration.

Concentration means to “gather (people or things) together in numbers or in a mass” (from Webster’s Dictionary). Therefore (and here’s the KEY), the better you prepare, the better you are able to concentrate. The better you concentrate, the better you are able to focus (direct energy) upon your main objective, goal or desire!

It was genius!

Mr. Laver’s statement cemented the second “P” (of “The 3 P’s), an absolute requirement for peak performance: Preparation!
[excerpt from The Pressure Paradox]

MORE…

In early November I presented many of these ideas about preparation, performance and pressure to the San Diego Entrepreneur’s Organization. Following the presentation, in the Q & A session, a man (John) asked about Rod Laver. “Isn’t he the guy with the oversized left arm?” “Well, I should know this,” I replied (really only knowing Rod in his 70’s, I hadn’t noticed). “I’m not sure…but I can tell you I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Nearly two weeks later, John emailed me with a link to an incredible story about Rod Laver (New York Times archive from September 1, 1968) titled, “For Rod Laver’s Tennis Opponents, Forearmed is Forewarned.”

Rodlaver-emailprepare

This was brilliant! A perfect example of how far the greats will go in order to prepare!

His left arm is so thoroughly developed that his right arm, at a quick glance, appears almost deformed.

His left wrist measures 7 inches, compared with 6 for his right. His left forearm measures 12 inches, compared with 10 1/2 for his right. Rod Laver is a wiry 5-foot 8-inch, 150-pounder, but his big wrist is an inch larger than that of Floyd Patterson, his big forearm equals that of Rocky Marciano.

“I used one of those squeeze things when I was young,” Laver says. “I guess I still should.”

“His left arm is so thoroughly developed that his right arm, at a quick glance, appears almost deformed.”

“His left wrist measures 7 inches, compared with 6 for his right. His left forearm measures 12 inches, compared with 10 1/2 for his right. Rod Laver is a wiry 5-foot 8-inch, 150-pounder, but his big wrist is an inch larger than that of Floyd Patterson; Laver’s big forearm equals that of Rocky Marciano.”

“I used one of those squeeze things when I was young,” Laver says. “I guess I still should.”

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(click on the image above to read the entire article)

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