The other day I was invited by Foundation Rafael del Pino to the presentation of Toni Nadal’s last book. He has been Rafa´s coach since he started playing tennis. In his introduction Amadeo Petitbó presented him as a Socratic Professor and his explained that this book is a manual for educators, but only for those who educate through effort, perseverance, passion and a deep desire to improve.
His presentation was an example of leadership but also humility and clairvoyance. Simplicity is the base of his principles. Solon´s sentence inspires all his work: “With no method, order, will, effort and sacrifice genius and success are not possible” it does not happen always like this, Maradona, Messi or the Rolling Stones are good examples, but he is convinced that the easiest way to success is through effort.
Toni is the only couch of the circuit that has trained his pupil (he calls him so) during his whole career, he joked saying he is also the cheapest, but the real reason is that Rafa knows he is the only person responsible for his mistakes, and of course, his success. Toni gives him guidelines and he chooses.
Further to Alex Ferguson “Victory is not the most important thing, it´s what matters” Toni´s goal is also to win #1 position in the world ranking but not anyway, only with correctness, he does not distinguish inside the court and outside the court.
Rafa has a special gift for sports (he wanted to play soccer though!) but further to his opinion his best quality is obedience. He obeys his physical therapist, his manager, his PR. He obeys but not limits himself to do what they say, he lets them guide him.
For Toni having a good character is key, to be able to control your will, he things we normally know what we need to do but very often we don´t have the will to do it . Passion and a good face: the eyes are the window of the soul. To bite the bullet: Rafa is a champion because he´s the one who´s s won more matches without playing as well. He knows how to resist a bit more.
I told Toni that I often use sports and Rafa´s example to teach resilience and leadership and he dedicated his book to IE WIB (Women in Business Club). I told him how just the previous day we discussed how sports and competition during childhood can help develop most leadership attributes, among them: Resilience, Team work, Visibility, Ambition, Strategy, Network, Multitask, Distinguish personal and professional issues.
We had a very productive session indeed, discussing how Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, was very thankful to his mother for introducing him to sports by playing hokey, golf and baseball and therefore fostered his self-confidence. Meanwhile, the post-war Spanish women approach to sports was mainly for health and good appearance, but never competition:
We all enjoyed this funny example of the old “Enciclopedia de la mujer”, but the harsh reality is that nowadays many girls who play soccer, handball, or hokey are called tomboys and, very often they cannot compete because their schools do not have feminine league or due to their age they cannot keep playing with their masculine colleagues.