People Academy Perspectives: John Trower and Self-Management

Like many casual sports fans in the UK, for 50 weeks of the year the People Academy team tend to pay very little attention to the sport of tennis. However, for two weeks every year at the end of June, we cannot help but become a little obsessed by the always absorbing Wimbledon Tennis Championships. 

As well as the quality tennis on show, we're intrigued by the fascinating blend of people competing in the tournament. Each player has their own distinctive traits and personality - and one of the more compelling aspects of watching Wimbledon as a tennis fan is observing how each of these very different athletes deal with the stresses and pressures of competing when one of the sport's grandest prizes is at stake.

Amongst the British contingent in the People Academy team, there's a natural inclination to root for Andy Murray; a true perfectionist with little patience for mistakes. When he's playing well, he's unerringly accurate and has a defensive game that is almost impossible to break down. But on the flip side, he is someone who can suddenly erupt at the sight of an unforced error flying off his strings.

Contrast Murray's style to that of Serena Williams, a master of aggressive 'first-strike' tennis who has the game to blast her opponents off the court. Channel that aggression positively, and she'll hit a ton of aces and clean winners. When things aren't quite going her way, then nobody is safe from being on the receiving end of a verbal volley.

Then there's Rafael Nadal, whose inherent need to feel mentally prepared for every single point has manifested itself into one of sport's most obsessive routines! And how about Maria Sharapova, who turns her back to her opponent when she needs to find some inner-calm?

If you’re in business or sports, either coaching or managing someone, a one-size fits all approach to self-management isn’t going to get you very far. What might suit one person isn’t going to suit at least another five people...”
— Phil Ferrar, People Academy Director

How these highly successful athletes deal with pressure present an interesting parallel with intense, stressful situations in business. Each of their methods and solutions are unique to them, and are informed by their underlying personality. There's no such thing as a one-size fits all solution to self-management; for instance, how effective would Rafael Nadal's pre-point routine work for Serena Williams in a moment of crisis? Probably not at all! And how do you think Andy Murray would react if a coach suggested to him that he counted to 10 anytime he needed to regroup?! You probably wouldn't need to wait 10 seconds to find out exactly how Murray would feel about that suggestion...

The People Academy team believe there's an important relationship between self-awareness and self-management - understanding what solutions work specifically for each individual (and why) is a key component of performance. People Academy Director Phil Ferrar wanted to explore the theme further, and invited elite sports coach John Trower onto FaceTime to discuss the importance of self-management: