Ever felt you have to:
- Push really hard to succeed and never take a break?
- Push through pain, sickness and emotion?
- Make it on your own and sacrifice love and connection to focus on your goal?
Maybe nobody actually told you this . . .
But for many the message is so strong it might as well be shouted from the roof tops!
And it becomes a default position.
We call it the ‘Shadow Masculine’ path to success.
And it has dominated sport and business for both men and women.
Often they have been places of pushing and bullying, resulting in toxic culture, misery and burn out.
But fortunately, there is a new approach.
And Ash Barty is the embodiment of its success.
I have no interest in watching sport so this is not a blog about tennis.
But I am fascinated by feminine leadership.
Especially when it is highly effective and an extraordinary example to all of us, men and women.
Barty is a wonderful example of the best of the feminine and masculine approach to achievement.
And still be Number 1 in the World!!!
She shows us you can have ultimate success by taking a more nurturing attitude to your body, mind and emotions.
What is a more feminine approach?
- It’s OK to take a break, rest and recuperate.
- Don’t push through pain, it’s a sign you have already pushed too hard.
- Don’t sacrifice your connections, they make you stronger.
Let’s look at each one of these in turn.
1. It’s OK to take a break, rest and recuperate.
Don’t just measure results with facts and figures, listen to your feelings as well. Your feelings matter. Take notice of them and use them as a guide to look after your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
In 2014, when Ash was 18 she took an ‘indefinite break from tennis.’
This is very unusual for an athlete because it is usually considered prime time to be pushing forward.
In the past, many coaches would consider this ‘a death knell’ for a successful career.
But Ash had been having a gruelling time away from her family and she wanted to ‘experience life as a normal teenage girl.’
She put her emotional, family and social needs above the push to succeed.
She explored a team sport and played cricket for 2 years, enjoying herself and doing something different.
When she felt ready she came back in 2016.
Just 3 years later she won the French Open and WTA finals and was ranked World Number 1!!
Lesson 1 – After taking a break you can actually achieve more, with greater inspiration, motivation, ease and grace!!
2. Don’t push through pain, it’s a sign you have already pushed too hard.
Stop and nurture your body. Goals will still be there but your body may not if you hurt it too much.
She had just over 4 weeks to prepare for Wimbledon after she had an aggravated hip injury at the French Open.
Instead of pushing through, she took two weeks off and prepared with her mind.
And let her body heal.
“To be honest, it was going to be touch-and-go. Everything had to be spot on to give myself a chance to play pain-free and to play knowing that I could trust my body.
To know that my body’s held up over a fortnight off, a different preparation, and just being able to accept that I could trust everything that we’ve done to the best of our ability, is incredible.”
She trusted her body to heal, she trusted her support and advice and she played her best tennis ever and won!
Lesson 2 – When you trust in your body and the messages it gives you, you can win pain free.
3. Don’t sacrifice your connections, they make you stronger.
No one achieves anything great on their own. You succeed more with the support of your team and you’re more likely to win. Your achievements can then be shared with those you love and your community.
Barty has always known that you can’t do anything great on your own.
It takes a team, it takes family and community support and it takes having the right inspiration and mentorship.
She always refers to and thanks her team.
She usually says: ‘we’. They are in it together:
“Very proud . . . now we get a chance to win the childhood dream.”
“My team is incredible, they are with me every single step of the way. I can’t thank them enough.”
Of her family and community, she says:
“I know they’re at home watching, I miss them and I love them. I can’t wait to get home to them . . . and really celebrate.”
She thanks her mentor and inspiration.
Evonne Goolagong Cawley is her friend, mentor and fellow indigenous Australian:
“I hope I made Evonne proud.” Barty said after winning Wimbledon, 50 years after Goolagong Cawley had done the same.
In a matter of hours Evonne responded.
“I am just so very much proud of Ash, the way she handles herself, not just on the court, but off the court too.”
Just as Barty watched Goolagong Cawley on TV and was inspired when she was a child,
Barty will inspire thousands of other indigenous and non indigenous children for generations to come.
Lesson 3 – It’s an incredible example and inspiration to others when we achieve our dreams in a way that is good for us too!!
You are an incredible human being who is an inspiration to us all and a legend for future generations to follow!
And as for your recent Olympic loss . . .
We know you will handle it with your usual grace and style, acknowledging the feelings with vulnerability, learning and then moving forward.
And even though it’s brutal, you’ll get back up and inspire us even more!
As your tattoo says:
“No rain. No flowers.”