On July 7, 2013 Andy Murray, ranked #2 in the world beat #1 ranked Novak Djokovic to win the 2013 Wimbledon Championship and taught all of us a few lessons in the process.
The past doesn't matter.
Murray became the first British tennis player to win the men's singles championship at Wimbledon since Fred Perry won in 1936.
Over the last 77 years many, many people have thought and even stated out loud, "He can't win Wimbledon - he's British!" As the years rolled by some even suggested there must be some kind of curse on the British.
Why do people think that way? Why do people think you'll never win because you're on the Clippers or because you live in that school district?
One year ago Murray lost to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon championship match on centre court. "It was the toughest loss of my career," said Murray. How many teams and players lose a devastating game and never recover?
Not only players and teams but also schools, communities, and even nations have convinced themselves they're not good enough based solely on previous results! Fortunately, Andy Murray didn't buy into that garbage; he knew the only thing that really matters is what happens now!
Rankings are meaningless.
I always get a good laugh when I'm at a summer tournament and hear parents mention the fact that their little all star is ranked 87th by some scouting service. How does anyone come to that conclusion and ultimately who does that impress? If rankings really mattered we wouldn't have to play the games! When two teams, or two individual players, are scheduled to play we could just award the highest ranking with an automatic win.
Andy Murray went into that championship matched ranked lower that his opponent. Did he let that bother him? At any point during the match did he think for even a split second, "I can't win this - Djokovic is ranked higher than I am"? No, he knew that games are won or lost on the court and not on ranking lists.
To be a champion you have to keep improving.
It doesn't matter how good you are right now, you have to continue to get better. Murray has been quoted as saying that one of his biggest goals is to get a little bit better year after year. After losing to Federer at Wimbledon in 2012 Murray sobbed into the live microphone, "I'm getting closer!" He didn't look at the loss as a complete failure but rather as an indication that he still needed to improve.
Jordan, Magic, Shaq, Kobe, Ginobli, LeBron and countless others had to improve certain areas and even add to their games before they could become one of the game's elite. They could've stayed the same, which was still very, very good, but they never would have been champions. Remember what Abraham Lincoln once said - "I will get ready and then perhaps my chance will come."
Don't take yourself too seriously.
To a competitor, winning is the ultimate thrill. However, while we should all take competing (and the competition) seriously we shouldn't do the same with ourselves. After winning a tournament earlier in the year, Murray grabbed the microphone and dedicated the victory to a friend who had been recently diagnosed with cancer. Following his Wimbledon championship Murray took several pictures of his dogs standing with the trophy. He almost instantly tried to return to being a regular guy. Championships are great and should be our ultimate goal but like Andy Murray we should remember that we are playing a game and neither wins nor losses should severely change our personality.
There's going to be pressure.
Nothing worthwhile ever comes extremely easy. There's going to be pressure and how that pressure is handled will often determine the outcome of the competition. Sometimes the pressure is self inflicted, trying to live up to your own expectations. Other times its pressure from outside sources - in Murray's case it was the hopes and expectations of an entire country resting squarely on his shoulders. Then once you win, expectations often become even higher and the pressure even greater.
When asked how he dealt with the pressure of Wimbledon, Andy Murray replied, "You have to embrace the occasion and try to embrace the pressures, the emotions, and the struggles you're going through."
I must admit that I'm not the world's biggest tennis fan but I do have a lot of respect for Andy Murray and his Wimbledon championship and am very grateful for the lessons his career has taught us.