What Corporate Gurus must learn from Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is frighteningly dominating men’s tennis. In 2015 he won 3 Grand Slam titles (Majors), 6 Masters and a 5th world tour finals becoming the 1st to win the end of the year tournament 4 consecutive times. He has started 2016 by winning the Australian Open for the 6th time. Djo now has 11 Majors, 6 short of Federers 17 and he also has won 26 Masters which is just 1 short of Rafa Nadal’s 27. Djo looks all set to substantially increase his tally of 11 Majors, considering that his main rivals are an ageing 34 year old Federer , Rafa and Andy Murray, all three of whom he is dominating at present.

Reasons for this success- determination of steel, Recognition of what is required, a target set for one-self and dedication to stick to it.

Let us go through the journey;

Life changed for Novak after a nutritionist Dr Igor Cetojevic, while surfing TV saw one of Djo’s regular mid-match collapses. This was in 2010. Dr Igor conducted experimental tests and found out that Djo had 3 food issues. He was allergic to Gluten, strongly intolerant to wheat and diary products and mildly sensitive to tomatoes. Bread and cheese was forthwith banned. Djo, ironically the son of pizza restaurant owner parents readily accepted the suggestion. (I wonder if we would have ?) Dr Igor gave him a gluten free diet for two weeks and Djo felt lighter. Then, as an experiment, Igor gave him a bagel and, lo and behold Djo felt sluggish and lethargic, confirming the gluten allergy.

Once the problem was diagnosed, then followed the tough decisions on how to solve it.  The champ permanently switched to a gluten free diet and the effect was remarkable.   This change in diet helped in Djo becoming world No. 1 within 12 months. He has stuck to the diet ever since with monk like perseverance.

The diet itself is based on vegetables, nuts, beans, chickpeas, seeds, lentils, healthy oils and lean meats. Djo cooks almost every meal himself. As a pro tennis player he cant avoid staying in hotels. One would feel this itself will jeopardize his diet. Not for this remarkable personality. He lays down a condition for hotels that he will stay with them only if they will allow him to use their kitchen. He never uses his phone or computer while eating. He never watches television while eating his food slowly and meticulously. Before eating he says a short prayer reminding himself of sticking to his diet. The results sure are reflecting in his performances.

(All these details of diet have been revealed by the champion himself in his book, Serve to win).

Lets have a look at what Djo has already achieved. As mentioned above, he has won 11 Majors, 26 Masters and 5 ATP World Tour Finals. He is world No.1 for 185 weeks which will substantially increase in future. Is Federer’s 302 in threat ? Probably yes. He is also a proud Davis Cup champion with Serbia lifting Davis Cup in 2010.

What Djo hasn’t done so far ? A glaring omission in his glittering trophy cabinet is the French Open. Only 7 champions have won all 4 Grand Slam titles. These champions are Fred Perry, Don Budge ( All Majors in a year), Rod Laver ( All Majors in a year twice), Andre Agassi , Roy Emerson, Roger Federer and Rafa. Djo surely would like to join this select list.

Its not that Djo has done badly at the French Open. Its destiny that 6 times including twice in finals he came up against the best clay court player of all time, 9 time winner Rafa. Djo’s best chances were probably 2011 and 2015. In 2011 he had defeated Rafa 4 times in a row and also had a 41 match winning streak before being defeated by Fed in the SF. In 2015 too he must have indeed fancied his chances especially after defeating Rafa in the quarter final. However Stan Wawrinka came up with a super display. Accordingly, French Open is one which he would be looking keenly to win, and preferably as early as possible, ideally in 2016 itself.

What lies ahead. He already has 11 Grand Slam titles. He seems to have had the measure of his opposition. His most important rivalries are versus Federer ( 23-22) and Rafa (24-23). However pertinently, Federer is 34 and has lost 7 of his last 7 Grand Slam Best of Five matches against Djo. Similarly Rafa had a 22-15 career lead against him but Djo has won 9 of his last 10  to go ahead at 24-23. This would show that he seems to have had the measure of his top 2 great rivals.

Other competitors are the unpredictable Murray and Wawrinka. While both have the game to win against Djo, his sheer consistency makes him clear favorites versus both of them. Therefore it is quite likely that Djo may end up winning several more Grand Slam’s in the next few years unless one or two young stars come up from nowhere.

Can he come close to Federer’s 17. Time will tell. Already he has given a veiled statement that Federer’s 17 can be challenged. I am sure he must be planning an assault on it.

The above write-up can be seen as a tennis article or as an excellent learning example for Corporate Gurus. Like Novak Djokovic had the problem diagnosed by Dr Igor, so also Corporate owners can get periodic analysis of where they are and where they ought to be headed to. In Djo’s case , it was a chance diagnosis, but this too shows his openness at allowing a problem to be examined. So also Corporate Honchos should be open. Once a problem is diagnosed and a solution offered, stick to it. Dont compromise. Like Djo going to the extent of asking whether he can use the kitchen of the hotel where he stays so that his diet is not compromised. Once goal is set and hard work done on a sustained basis, the results will follow. Thereafter after the goal is achieved, then the corporate needs to reevaluate and set a fresh goal for themselves.  Like Djo , not remaining satisfied with his 10 Grand Slams and thinking about the next Step. The learning points indeed from the story of this remarkable champion are many, and one can choose to learn from the success story of  Nonak Djokovic or simply think of him as just one more tennis player.



4 thoughts on “What Corporate Gurus must learn from Novak Djokovic

  1. Very trie . the analogy to corporate sector is unmistakable on many counts. Self discipline is pre requisite for corporate excellence. And Roosevelt had rightly said ‘With self a discipline most anything is possible.’

    Liked by 1 person

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