In the high-stakes world of sports, assumption often masquerades as certainty. The moment you ascend to the coveted title of World #1, it's easy to imagine that fear has been dealt with. Yet, former World #1, Ash Barty, asserts that fear is an inseparable part of our being that doesn't fade with accolades or titles. Instead, it morphs into a choice, an opportunity – a chance to learn, acknowledge, accept, and overcome.
Consider for a moment the duality of our emotions, the ever-shifting balance between love and fear. According to Ash, these emotions, like the opposing sides of a coin, guide our every decision. All other feelings, whether happiness or sadness, anger or joy, are but derivatives of these primal forces. When we acknowledge and accept them we can truly claim agency over our choices.
It is this power of choice that distinguishes champions from contenders. In the heat of the moment, when anxiety and excitement collide, the decision is yours. Which emotion will you allow to guide you? For Ash, it’s not about eliminating emotions. The key is to refine your ability to navigate them, mute the distracting noise, and empower yourself to fuel your inner fire.
Sportswomen and men, like Ash Barty, are no strangers to this internal struggle. Jimmy Conners stated that 95% of the tennis game depends on mental condition. The pinnacle of competition, like the 2018 Wimbledon, often serves as the crucible for such transformative experiences. Barty, reflecting on her journey, recalls the dual nature of that fateful game, the two “wolves” that fought for her attention. She concedes that she chose to feed the wrong wolf that day.
But in those moments of vulnerability, in the face of adversity, also lies the opportunity for growth. Barty chose to examine her choices, to delve into the 'whys' behind her actions. Acceptance, though a gradual process, became her compass. Recognizing the need for change, she sought a new path, finding it through open conversations and fresh perspectives.
This transformative journey teaches us an essential truth: the power of our words in shaping our reality. Barty's shift from "have" to "get" mirrors a profound shift in perspective. “I get to walk to dogs” as opposed to “I have to walk the dogs”, for example. Each decision, each emotion, becomes an opportunity rather than an obligation. Victimhood dissolves, and opportunity flourishes.
For Ash, choice of emotion became paramount, irrelevant of result. As Hamish McLachlan poignantly asked, "Have you ever chosen love and it's ended badly?" Barty's response echoes through the corridors of competition – the empowered choice itself is more critical than the result. She’s come to understand that results are transient, fleeting, neither inherently good nor bad. They just are, and in the face of uncontrollable outcomes, choices become our lifelines.
Letting go of emotional attachment to results, in the glare of public scrutiny, is an act of surrender. It is an admission of what we can't change, a daunting and yet liberating prospect. It's a lesson to ourselves and those who admire us – success is measured not solely by victories, but by the choices we make, the journey we undertake, and the growth we experience.
So, let the world's stage illuminate your path. Choose love when the shadows of fear loom large, and when the tumultuous game of life presents its defining moments. For it is in those moments that we learn, evolve, and ultimately shape our destinies. Fear, once a daunting adversary, transforms into a stepping stone, a catalyst for fulfilment, self-belief and joy. In the end, isn't that what life, and sport, are all about?