Andy Murray? He’s Just Like You…


We all know the stat by now. The first British winner of the men’s singles since Fred Perry in 1936. (If you really want to impress them, the score was 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 and Perry defeated Gottfried von Cramm.)

Congratulations to Andy Murray and, according to all the papers, he can now go on and become undisputed World number one, before winning more and more grand slams and surpassing Djokovic, Becker and – yes, they can be serious – maybe even McEnroe.

So before long Andy Murray will stand supreme. Right at the top of his game. Out on his own. Alone at the pinnacle.

Apart from the dozen or so other people at the pinnacle with him…

One of the great clichés of sport – and business – is that ‘there’s no “I” in team.’ Very true. However, in both sport and business there is very definitely a team behind a successful “I.”

Consider Andy Murray’s supporting cast:

Judy Murray – Mum, mentor, first coach
Ivan Lendl – winner of eight grand slams and current coach
Jez Green & Matt Little – fitness trainers
Andy Ireland & Johan de Beer – physios
Daniel Vallveran – hitting partner & tactical analyst

Plus assorted nutritionists, dieticians, accountants, lawyers, PR people, the website manager and last but by no means least Kim Sears, Andy Murray’s girlfriend.

And for Andy Murray read Rory McIlroy, Sebastian Vettel and any other top sportsman you can think of in an ‘individual’ sport.

But as an entrepreneur in North Yorkshire you surely don’t need an entourage like that to be successful? Surely you just need to ‘suit up’ and go to work?

Not any more. The longer I’m in business, the more I think that a good support team is vital. I’m not talking here about your ability to network and your ability to make connections – we looked at that in a previous post – I’m talking about what’s necessary to get the most out of you as an individual. What’s needed for you to work at your optimum for as long as possible.

So yes, I do think entrepreneurs should eat sensibly. I do think they should exercise regularly – and getting your work/life balance right is vital for your optimum performance at work.

And a coach? Well, I would say that wouldn’t I?

People selling coaching services often parrot the line, ‘All the top sportsmen have a coach so you need one as well.’ That’s far too simplistic – it’s the nature of the coaching that’s important. So how does Ivan Lendl coach Andy Murray? Let me quote from Owen Gibson’s article in the Guardian.

Lendl has brought a shift in the mindset of the ‘Murray project…’ Lendl, by his very presence and a few well chosen words, has brought his experience to bear. When Lendl talks, Murray listens.

I couldn’t agree more – especially with the phrase, ‘a few well-chosen words.’ In business, it isn’t the job of a coach to be talking all the time. A good coach is a watcher and a listener as much as a talker. He doesn’t need to say much: what he does say needs to matter.

Very often the best coaches don’t give advice either: they ask questions. ‘Why don’t you…’ ‘What do you need to do…’ ‘What difference would it make if…’ No two ways about it: discovering something for yourself is always a far more powerful motivator than being spoon-fed the answer.

And I think that’s very much the strength of the Alternative Board. All your fellow Board members are watching and listening. But the key point is that they’re watching and listening from different viewpoints, different perspectives. They all run their own businesses, with different challenges: so they all see your business from a different angle – and they’ll ask slightly different questions.

My job is to pull all that input, advice and experience together: to make sure the Board gels and that everyone benefits. And occasionally to offer my own six penn’orth of course…

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