Lessons I Learned From the Best Athletes in the World

Lessons I Learned From the Best Athletes in the World

September 28, 2018

Last weekend was the Laver Cup, and it was glorious.

The Laver Cup is a team tennis event thought up by co-founder Roger Federer, and it’s perfect in every way.

The theme of the event (root for your teammates as hard as you want by doing anything you want) is perfect, the teams’ make-up (Team Europe v. Team World) is perfect, the length (three intense days) is perfect , the captains (“The Iceman” Bjorn Borg for classy Europe and “The Brat” John McEnroe for the opposite-of-classy Team World) are perfect, and the scoring (the scoring increases every day, increasing the tension every day) is perfect.

It was the best live sports event I’ve seen in many years and there were life lessons everywhere.

But, specifically, here’s what I learned from Team World (the team made up of predominantly Americans–the greatest country in the world–and also Nick Kyrgios).

  1. Never follow rules of decorum. Even though this is an anything-goes event, one might think that a nod to tradition would be the classy thing to do. One would be wrong. If a dress code is involved, break it whenever possible. If you’re supposed to wear your team uniform, instead wear a jersey from another sport. And if you can put your own name on it, even better. How is anyone supposed to get attention by wearing only a boring uniform? Exactly.
  2. Being self-aware is overrated. A great philosopher once said, “It’s more important to be aware than it is to be intelligent.” Hogwash.  For example, if I’m playing a match and my team is specifically supposed to wear only red while the other team is supposed to wear only blue…whatever. Even though swag was provided and even though I might have 30 red hats, if I get a little sweaty, I’m putting on that blue hat I have in my bag. Sure, it’s the wrong color, but so what? Awareness gets in the way of what I want to do. If I want to switch lanes on a busy highway, I’m going to do it because it’s easiest for me. If there’s a lunch in the company refrigerator, I’m eating it if I’m hungry. Being aware wastes too much time.
  3. Don’t sweat the details. Even if you have months to prepare, why bother getting with my sponsors and figuring out how to have the right color shirts made? Even if it might make a difference, even if the other team makes a habit of paying attention to the smallest details, I’m showing up wearing a ragtag collection of whatever I want. Worrying about details is overrated and unnecessary, especially if it cuts into leisure time.
  4. No need to prepare. In Laver Cup, the team benches are right on the court. You can scream for you teammate from close range. However, right before matches were to start, the other team would leave the bench to go through their mental and physical warm-ups. Not necessary. Just stay out there and try to get attention as long as possible. Pre-game routines are for boring old-timers. Having fun now matters most.
  5. Use your phone regularly. Even if there’s a locker room where a phone can be used in private, just use it right now where you are. No one understands the importance of that text I just got and, honestly, you really expect me to look at that IG post later? No way. I use my phone now, immediately, and whenever possible. Looking at my phone has no effect on my performance.


[Team World lost to Team Europe 13-8.]


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