The Unnoticed Tell-Tale Sign of Greatness

It happened many long years ago.

And I'm pretty sure I'm the only person on earth who remembers it.

But it was amazing. 

The moment I'm referring to happened during a nondescript Rafael Nadal tennis match.

A few years back (I don't remember when), Rafa Nadal was playing an early-round U.S. Open opponent (I don't remember who), and Nadal was running this guy ragged. 

Rafa has a way of grinding his opponents into sawdust, and this match was no different. Corner to corner the poor sap went, like a puppet on Nadal's maniacal string. The outcome was never in doubt.

And then... holy crapoly.

For the umpteenth time, Rafa was running him mercilessly, and in this particular rally all his opponent could do was run hopelessly into the corner and feebly throw up a lob.

You could see right away that the lob would barely even get to the net and Nadal was standing there waiting to smash his response up into the third row.

The point, for every intent and purpose, was over.

But just as this wounded duck was creeping its way toward the net, Rafa abruptly got his racquet ready and did a quick sprint to his left as the ball harmlessly fell short into the net.

Wait, what?

The point was over. It had no chance. It didn't even make it over the net. 

So why did Rafa sprint to his left? 

Rafa did it just in case the only possible losing outcome happened to come true.

You see, Rafa was standing in the alley watching the short lob. If it kept going straight, it would be out and the point was his. It was a no-lose situation.

Except for one tiny possibility. 

The only way Rafa could've lost that point is if the lob somehow came down and ticked off the very top of the net while having a weird spin on it that would cause it to re-direct itself to the right, landing crazily back into the singles court. 

The chances of that happening were maybe one-in-a-million. Maybe. 

But Rafa was ready for it anyway. 

That's why he sprinted to his left. He was guarding against the one-in-a-million possibility that the ball ricocheted back into the court. 

One-in-a-million wasn't good enough for Nadal. He wanted it to be zero-in-a-million.

He loves winning that much. 

I've never seen that before and I'm sure I'll never see it again. Who cares about winning that much? Who cares about something so deeply that one-in-a-million is not acceptable?

And what's the real-world equivalent to this?

Would an equivalent be looking up the bio of every single person in the company that's about to interview you while also studying the company's entire history while also bringing a homemade five-year business plan that will increase the company's profits?

Would it be calling the restaurant before your date and having the tablecloth changed into your date's favorite color while double-checking the availability of your date's favorite meal while pre-arranging the preferred desert that isn't on the menu while having the Uber show up thirty minutes early to wait?

Are those examples even close to Rafa's little sprint?

The truth is: Rafa is not one of the twenty best ball-strikers in tennis history. His game isn't that spectacular. He serves with the wrong hand (he's actually a righty), returns too far back in the court, hits too short under pressure sometimes, and doesn't play enough offense. 

But no one cares about winning more than Rafa. No one.

And that's what's inspiring.

We don't have to better than everyone else to be one of the very best of all time.

We just have to be willing to have unrelenting focus.

We just have to care about things that no one else would care about or even notice.

If we want to be great, we just have to be like Rafa.

 

My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.