This is the third post in our June series looking at the practices of Apex Leaders, those who are the very best at what they do.  Just in case you missed the first two articles, click the following:

With the French Open tennis tournament to conclude this weekend, today’s post takes at look at the top male and female players in the world, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams.

The following are 3 Leadership Quotes and Lessons from these two Apex athletes:

  1. Great Leaders Often Feel Great Pressure – A much discussed topic in June 2nd USA Today article is the pressure on Djokovic as he attempts to win his first French Open.  Former top player Carlos Moya said, “You feel it, honestly.  Even for him, as a great champion, mentally he’s such a strong player.  You feel it.  He’s human.”
  2. All Great Leaders Handle Pressure Differently – Former player Martina Navratilova said, “His obstacle is the pressure here…Everybody handles pressure differently.”
  3. Great Leaders Struggle With Doubt And Feeling Vulnerable – In an August 31, 2015 Sports Illustrated article when asked if she feels indestructible, Williams told writer L. Jon Wortheim, “No I don’t.  You would be surprised by how I feel.  I feel vulnerable every time I step out there.  Every single time.”  Djokovic told Wortheim in a May 23rd SI article, “There are days and periods in my career when I went through a lot of doubt.  But you overcome those moments with the help of people around you.”

Serena Williams is a transcendent talent.  As of August 2015, the points distance between her and the #2 player in the world was greater than the points difference between the #2 player and the lowest-ranked player on the tour.  Think about that.

So it made sense in the same August 31st article, Williams was asked what could derail your U.S. Open championship hopes?  She said, “Me. I’m always one of my biggest competitors.  I can stop myself.  That’s why I try to stay positive on the court and really focused and as calm as I can be.  Then I have to make sure I don’t have too many ‘cheat days’ and am prepared.  I need to make sure I am good… And fear and doubt can stop me too.  If I step on the court and am a little nervous or fearful, that’s not a good sign.”

From Williams’s comments, I gleaned the following 8 Hurdles All Leaders Must Face And Conquer:

  1. Poor Self-Leadership – Williams admitted she is her biggest competitor and is right.  You cannot lead others if you cannot lead yourself.
  2. Negative Thinking – Leaders are positive and always point to a brighter tomorrow.  People do not follow negative thinking leaders.
  3. Lack Of Focus – Leaders who become distracted are simply less effective.
  4. Panic – The ability to stay calm during times of crisis and conflict is key to a leader’s success.
  5. Lack Of Discipline – Williams said, “I have to make sure I don’t have too many ‘cheat days'”  Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”  Successful leaders are diligent leaders.
  6. Not Preparing – Leaders will either prepare or repair.
  7. Poor Health – A leader’s greatest ability is their availability.  Also, a leader’s greatest weapon is their mind.  Your mind is housed in your body.  If you have poor health and are unavailable, the organization can no longer take advantage of your beautiful mind.
  8. Fear And Doubt – Already mentioned above, fear and doubt can paralyze a leader.

After reading this list, what is one hurdle you need to conquer to become a better leader?

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