What Watching Australian Open Tennis Can Teach You About Running Your Business

Last week, I had the pleasure and privilege to attend the 2011 Australian Open Tennis Championship. In one of the semi-final matches, Novak Djokovic was playing the legendary Roger Federer and at one point had “vision problems”… Due to dry contact lenses.

So you’d think he would have eye drops in his bag…. Nope!

Can you believe that?!?!?

A multi-millionaire tennis player who wears contact lenses doesn’t have eye drops in his bag.


But it gets WORSE.

Djokovic ends up winning the semi-final and in the FINAL of the Australian Open, the SAME THING HAPPENS AGAIN.

Where are his eye drops?!?!

His team have them – IN THE STANDS.

I mean c’mon… Is this for real?

Yes it is.

Piss Poor Planning = Poor Performance

In this instance he was able to ‘recover’, but I am sure you’ll agree the risk and stress is preventable.

What does this have to do with you running your business?

I see this level of Piss Poor Planning every single day. Business owners who “wing it” with little or no preparation whatsoever.

They are stressed and lose contracts, projects and orders because they are ill (or not) prepared.

Just as poorly as Novak Djokovic was.

Here’s the thing to learn from Djokovic – what’s obvious to us on the sidelines is NOT obvious to him and his team/entourage. If I was his coach, I would NEVER, EVER let that happen.

Think it’s a one-off, think again.

In the final, Andy Murray needed to get rackets re-strung DURING the match. There is $2.2 Million on the line and he can’t get multiple rackets PRE-STRUNG in advance… I guess “mommy” doesn’t have all the bases covered… ( more on that in a future post).

I am not a professional athlete and I have 5 rackets pre-strung READY for my EVERYDAY matches… This is NOT rocket science. The rackets can be strung ON THE DAY, IN ADVANCE. The worst that can happen is you don’t use them and they’re ready for the next practice session.

Simple enough, but y’know what?


What this means for those of us who prepare in advance – we have the EDGE before the game even starts. WE KNOW WE’RE READY.

That makes all the difference – to our mindset, confidence and ultimately to the outcome.

Yeah, yeah I know. I can hear you all the way over here… “but Djokovic won the final.”

Yeah. This time he got away with it.

That’s the other lesson to learn. MOST people don’t get the lesson UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE and they lose something they should have won.

Even then some of them don’t learn, but they are not the ones worth trying to help.


  • What are you NOT preparing for adequately?
  • What is your equivalent to the eye drops?
  • To the racket stringing?

What are you going to do about it? When?

12 Responses to “What Watching Australian Open Tennis Can Teach You About Running Your Business”

  • This post makes the point quite well about the COSTS involved with reactive thinking and operating versus the benefits to be gained from pro-active thinking and operating. Thanks for the reminder.

  • The Boy Scouts are so right when they claim preperation as one of the key pieces to success and value. I used to pride myself on being able to fly by the seat of my pants and make things work, but now that I have children I see that preperations and organization are NECESSARY for me to get anything done properly. Great article, and great reminder!

  • You’d be surprised how many people think they can just get by on basic prep. I mean, as far as tennis is concerned, they’re spending ridiculous amounts of time in the gym and on the courts before each competition in preparation, what’s the problem with applying that kind of effort to equipment, as well?

    I’m a cook. You better believe I don’t keep ONE spatula or just TWO spoons in my kitchen.

  • Could it be better to take a risk from time to time? It’s not like I can plan ahead for every potential accident, so I usually just trust that I’m capable of dealing with whatever might come up, other than some kind of freak disaster or whatever.

  • It’s usually a hell of a lot safer BEING prepared for what might happen than just FEELING prepared. First aid kits come to mind here, eh? This is just common sense, which is remarkably uncommon for some people.

  • You can’t plan for everything, buddy. Yeah, there’s simple stuff that you can prevent with a little forethought, but it’s just impossible to micromanage what sort of random chance events might pop out of some hole in your logic.

  • If you’re a carpenter, keep back up tools. If you’re a student, more than one pencil and plenty of paper.

    It’s the BASICS in life that require the most support, and tend to get overlooked if they don’t seem immediately important.

  • Hmm… I wear contacts myself, but I almost never carry eye drops… I was driving the other day and the left one happened to slip to the side on my eye. I was forced to just drive the rest of the way home with my left eye closed since I didn’t want to lose the contact. I guess it’d be a hell of a lot smarter to just keep some eye drops handy.

  • These are a couple of great examples of basic prep work gone wrong. It’s always important to think ahead before any crucial task, and to make certain you’re ready for whatever might happen. Thanks for posting this Dr. Marc!

  • I don’t know what I would have done yesterday if I hadn’t kept a fire extinguisher in my shop. Bravo, Dr. Dussault! It doesn’t take convoluted thought processes to be ready for mistakes and accidents when they happen.

  • I ran into one of these situations the other day. Just as a rote procedure, I keep backup paper copies of our plan sets and update them with each print and revision. One of our clients wound up snagging a conference with a potential investor and needed a fresh set of house plans, ran right into my office asking me for them, and what did I do? I handed them right to him! Shows you’re a professional, right?

  • Backup plans on top of backup plans on top of backup plans, not to mention equipment. If you want somebody to come back to YOU for what they need, whether you’re working in I.T., accounting, or ANY service job: be prepared for what’s needed before it’s necessary.

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