Problems? Challenges? YOU Have the Answer – Lessons from Tennis Pros

By Shlomo Maital    

   Patrick Mouratoglou is perhaps the world’s best-known high-achieving tennis coach, for a wide range of professionals, men and women.  He has a knack for identifying young talent and grooming them for greatness.   He founded  the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in 1996 near Paris (now moved to the outskirts of Nice), and has coached many up-and-coming players, including Marcos Baghdatis,  Julia Vakulenko, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Aravane Rezaï, Irena Pavlovic, Jérémy Chardy, Laura Robson, Yanina Wickmayer and Grigor Dimitrov – and many others.  And of course, Serena Williams…

     What is his secret?  Here is what Alexei Popyrin, Budding Australian tennis star, explained to Matthew Futterman, in today’s New York Times (Sept. 9):

      “Mouratoglou usually functions like a tennis Buddha, a sounding board who listens more than he speaks. I vent to him.  He lets you speak your mind and when you speak your mind to him, a lot of the time you get the answers yourself.”

     Let’s take note of those last words.  A lot of the time you get the answers yourself.

     In teaching creativity to students – more accurately, in helping them re-discover their own nascent creativity —  I stress two proven principles.  First, assume from the outset, with 100% belief, that there IS a solution to the problem.  Second, you yourself will find it, it is out there waiting to be found, persist and look in dark corners and it will pop out.   But please, make sure you deeply thoroughly understand the problem BEFORE you try to solve it.

     We often think by verbalizing our thoughts.  Can you verbalize your problem or challenge?  Say it, define it.  Listen to it.  It helps to talk about it to someone, who is a good listener.  And as you listen to yourself defining the problem,  solutions will emerge.   Maybe not at once.  But eventually.  Why? Because one of the most powerful parts of our brains is our subconscious – the part of the brain that works, and works hard, even when we are not aware of it. 

     When you speak your mind, a lot of the time you get the answers yourself.  A life lesson from tennis players.