The power of mental fortitude

Andy Murray by Nick Webb

It’s been a pretty good time for British sport over the last few days. Following hot on the heels of the British and Irish Lions’ first win in 16 years, Andy Murray finally became the first British male to win Wimbledon in 77 years, something many British sports fans thought might never happen in their lifetime. And with England set to begin their defence of the Ashes against Australia this week, perhaps the glory will continue!

For both the Lions and Andy Murray’s triumphs, it goes without saying that skill, perseverance and countless hours of practice and preparation led to their successes. However, it’s also worth considering not just the physical but the mental and psychological strength top teams and individuals need to have in order to reach the summits of their sports.

Bouncing back from the brink

Andy Murray in particular has shown a strength and determination that has been really quite impressive. Following his four set loss to Roger Federer in last year’s Wimbledon final, the defeat seemed to really hit him hard. Speaking to the crowd during the trophy presentations, he broke down and many watching wondered how he would be able to bounce back after losing yet another grand slam final (up to that point he had already lost three other finals, at the US and Australian Opens).

But Murray recovered from the Wimbledon loss to win both the gold medal at the Olympics and the US Open later that summer and was runner-up in the 2013 Australian Open in January. Although the Wimbledon defeat must have haunted him like no other, he didn’t allow it to knock his confidence and self-belief. Instead, he used the pain to channel his energy in a positive way. It’s remarkable how Andy Murray has recovered and learnt from his failures in order to focus his mind on what really matters: winning grand slams.

Learn from the champions

I don’t believe it’s just sports professionals who use the power of mental fortitude to get where they want to be. Anyone in any field of work can progress by remaining positive and being proactive in everything they do. All of the people I respect the most have taken responsibility for the ups and downs in their lives to become successful at what they do.

Just as Andy Murray has learnt from his failures to reach the top of his game, so too can engineers, scientists, journalists and marketers. We are all bound to fail at some point in our lives but it’s the way in which we respond to the challenges that shape the journey we take afterwards. Whilst we may not all become no. 1 in everything we do, I believe remaining positive, proactive and focused on what we want to achieve (both personally and professionally) will improve our effectiveness and help us to our enjoy our lives.