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Novak Djokovic, the Serbian professional tennis player, is the No. 1 ranked male tennis player by the Association of Tennis Professionals, but this isn’t anything new. Djokovic has been ranked number one for over 300 weeks throughout his entire career, and has increasingly been called one of the best tennis players of all time. But I think I’ve learned more about how to be better at business than I could ever learn about being good at tennis just from my time working with him.
Over the last seven years, I have been fortunate enough to work with Djokovic on several international PR events, and each and every time we work together, I am always impressed about what I have learned from him, beyond a few tennis tips.
Here are five business lessons from working with Djokovic that I have implemented not only in business also in my life.
1. Be grateful to those who have supported you
Djokovic has all the time in the world for his fans. I’ve seen how grateful he is for the opportunities he’s been given because of their support and commitment to him and his brand, and that he feels like he owes them all the time he can give to them. Whether it’s signing autographs at events, taking pictures or just joking around with people, he has as much time as necessary for all of them, and you can see how much the fans appreciate his energy.
In business, it’s very common for successful people to forget where they came from and who helped them get there. But with Djokovic, the end goal is to make people know how much he appreciates their influence in his life.
2. Always give back
Djokovic has made it clear to me that what comes with success and fame is the opportunity to give back and make a huge difference in the world. In 2007 he started the Novak Djokovic Foundation, an organization that helps preschool-aged children in impoverished areas have access to education. Djokovic and his co-founder and wife, Jelena, have helped more than 30,000 children, and Djokovic has made it clear that he plans to keep going. Charity for him has no boundaries, and he is willing to go the extra mile to really make sure that his charity achieves every goal it puts forth.
3. Never give up
For elite athletes, injuries are incredibly difficult to endure. Not only do they have to spend months recovering in physical therapy, but they also have to spend additional time getting back to the physical shape they were in before the injury. Djokovic has often had injuries that have made it incredibly hard for him to hold or return to his No. 1 ranking, but with every one of these obstacles he’s persevered and found that with a little time — and a lot of work — he has been able to get back out onto the court stronger than ever.
As entrepreneurs, we will always face many bumps in our journey to success, and throwing in the towel often seems like the only solution. Having Djokovic’s grit and commitment is an invaluable way to live by and ensure that you meet your life’s goals.
4. A healthy mind creates a healthy body
Djokovic lives on the strict principle that the body and the mind are connected, and that it’s important to make sure that both are healthy. If you put unhealthy food in your body, or are doing things that are bad for your mental health, you will get results that reflect that. Djokovic abides by a very strict gluten-free diet, exercises daily and makes time every day for something that will help him relax — he attributes all of this to his continued success.
It’s easier for a professional athlete to abide by a strict diet than an entrepreneur, but anyone who makes healthier food choices will see that pay off in the long run.
It all starts with a positive mindset, and the rest follows. Taking time out to reflect and meditate each day can do wonders and lays the foundation for a healthier body.
5. Stand up for what you believe in
Djokovic has never been afraid to voice his opinion and voice his beliefs and point of view. This perhaps stems from growing up in Serbia, at the time a war-torn country, where kids didn’t have a voice and “did not dare to dream big” Djokovic has said. As entrepreneurs, we can often be fearful to say what we really think and and stand our ground, but not saying anything could be more detrimental in the long run.
Having a strong point of view will make people respect you, and those who don’t will at least know where you stand. There’s nothing worse than just taking the middle-of-the-road approach and not being passionate.
The lessons I have learned from Djokovic have left a lasting impression on me. By following some of his principles, I’ve been able to make my work more meaningful and effective, inspired by how deeply devoted he is to his career and life causes. I hope that you can learn from my experience with him and bring some of these lessons into your own business and life to get you to fulfill your dreams no matter what is served to you.