Strive for Perfection
I was once given the unique opportunity to fly as a guest of the Blue Angels in a F-18 Hornet and the pilot became a very close friend of mine. It has been 14 years since that flight but former Lt. Scott Beare (Yogi) and I often talk about what it takes to be the best of the best and that means number one!
As we exchange stories it became very clear that there are certain factors that are very much the same between a Blue Angel and a top of the top tennis player. After every Blue Angel performance, they hold a very serious briefing session requiring each member to speak up and open about what they did not live up to. This is no different from tennis.
Typically, after matches you will hear players speak about their performance. It is as if the player is taking the role as the lead pilot and speaking first. By doing this, people can get a sense of what the player thought about how their match went. You will often hear players speak of their matches in interviews, but the most important information is shared with their coaches, family, and peers, or also known as their support team. This can give the support team a better lead in to their input. There are times when players think they are the opposite of what their support team sees. Sometimes teams will even go their separate ways because of such disagreements. However, what really matters after the match is what each member of the team will do to achieve a higher level for perfection.
This includes making adjustments to techniques or strategies. For a Blue Angel pilot, it might require a much tighter formation. For a tennis player, it might require a little more racket head when hitting a killer forehand or a sonic serve. Keep in mind that repeated occurrences of the same mistake are not acceptable. You must be able to RECOGNIZE. STOP. AND REPLACE. If you continue bad habits, then you will only continue to go downhill. If you lose a match, then how do you expect that same strategy to work again next time? Tennis is a game of evolving. In the tennis world, a day of not learning is a day lost. In order to strive for perfection, you must be willing to learn and accept the advice from others. If not, then someone else is just going to surpass you.
Individuals must accept criticism and strive for improvement, regardless of their title. My friend Yogi Beare and Michael McMillan offer fantastic words of advice, “When each member accepts full responsibility and strives for excellence, trust and performance increase exponentially, the team is ready to take off.” We are all human so we make mistakes, but as humans we can also make adjustments.