By Mary Golden
Nov. 3, 2011 – Today I went to a luncheon in Denver with hundreds of women who came to give money to help girls and women through the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. The legendary world-class tennis player and activist Martina Navratilova talked to us about the importance of staying focused.
Martina has been recognized as the best tennis player in the world. Although she has retired from competitive tennis, she participates in marathons and climbs mountains to raise money for charity. She travels the world, but enjoys coming to stay in her house in Aspen. Today she talked to us about why she will never retire from working for human rights.
She said that by the age of seven, she knew she wanted to be a professional tennis player.
“If you think big, it takes up residency in your body, your mind and your spirit,” she said.
She also talked about when bad things happen, such as getting sick or having to leave her home to have the freedom to become a world champion. When she was only 18, she left her home in Czechoslovakia and moved to the United States to have more freedom. It was very hard for her—she didn’t see her family for more than five years. Despite such personal hardships, she knew she had to stay focused. Martina told us about the time when she was so upset about missing a point that she had to work hard not let it cost her the whole game.
“You must concentrate on what you want to accomplish. Don’t think about the past, only the present.”
She said the only failure is when you didn’t try, when you know you didn’t do your best.
“What happens to us is less important than what we do about it. Use your power to redesign your life.”
The importance of journaling
One thing that has really helped her is keeping a journal. Another champion tennis player and coach, Billie Jean King, taught Marina to write down everything she did in her journal.
“This really helped me to absorb what I wanted to learn,” she said.
She wrote down what she observed, what she felt, whatever affected her mentally and physically, and everything that was going on with her game.
“That few minutes every day made a huge difference in my playing. It helped me create a vision of where I wanted to go that was detailed and focused on a successful outcome.”
Martina speaks on behalf of girls’ and women’s projects around the world. She is a national ambassador for health and fitness and likes to be personally involved in helping others. She loves working and said, “Work should be a superior form of play.”
Points to remember
She concluded her speech by encouraging us to keep the following four points in mind:
- Never give up your dignity. Remember that even when you are down, you are still the same person you were when everything was going really well, with the same talents, intelligence and other abilities.
- Live with passion. Do something you really care about that is outside yourself and helps others.
- Understand that attitude is the #1 predictor of success, and that attitude is a choice.
- Recognize your gifts. Think positively about yourself. If there is anything that doesn’t please you, change it. It’s your decision, your choice. Don’t complain. Act.
- Work together. Teamwork rescues you and gives you strength. If people work separately, few will succeed. If they work together, it’s easy.
Her final advice was from Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”