Pensions – Two sets down, can we come back?

The enormity of Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon last Sunday still hasn’t quite sunk in across our nation.

After 3 hours and 9 minutes Andy managed to beat World Champion Novak Djokovic and become Britain’s first Wimbledon Men’s champion since Fred Perry in 1936.

@adidasUK 7 Jul “After the hurt, pain and tears. He came back. Stronger. Faster. Better. #allinformurray the 2013 Wimbledon Champion”

Andy’s pathway to success carries many of the hallmarks of high performance. The last 10,000 hours of Andy’s career has seen a transformational change in his mindset, his physique and his resulting game. Although tennis is an individual and pugilistic sport between two individuals in the match, the focus and preparation happening every minute of every day outside of a match is definitely a team one. And Andy has a super team. His mother, Judy; father, Willie; his brother, Jamie; and his girlfriend and best friend, Kim form his network of support. He also has a sturdy coach in former Grand Slam winner Ivan Lendl, and fitness coach Jez Green. In his speech immediately following his victory, Murray said to his team, “I know I’m not a particularly easy person to manage and thank you for your support.” Like all great teams, this one is united by a common purpose, which is to create a tennis World Champion in Andy Murray by helping him master the five key areas of high performance: mental, physical, tactical, technical and spiritual.

“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”
– William Arthur Ward

Andy’s arrival in the ATP top 5 was supported by his tactical and technical tennis skills honed over 10,000 hours training as a junior tennis player. However, in order to beat Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic and win a grand slam, he needs to be master of all five areas. Ivan Lendl has given him the coaching and mental fortitude needed to be a grand slam winner, demonstrated by the player’s breathtaking comeback from two sets down in the Men’s quarter finals against Fernando Verdasco. And Andy’s fitness coach has transformed Andy’s diet, which is now completely gluten free and combined with physical training so that Andy has gone from looking tall and lanky to toned and ripped. The fifth is perhaps the hardest: the spiritual resilience to win is often underestimated and badly understood. Great winners win because they find a way to believe they can. It’s not easy. For Murray, perhaps it was even harder because of his close call last year: after being a set up against Roger Federer, he ended up losing the match.

“I learned a lot from last year’s Wimbledon and the one thing that really stands out is I now know how I need to play to win the big matches”, said Murray, “I didn’t come away from that (Wimbledon) final against Federer doubting myself, I didn’t have any regrets. However, I think I’ll be in a better place mentally than last year.

To become a champion – to succeed in achieving a lofty goal – tennis players and us regular people must learn from their mistakes and turn them into strengths. It’s only through failure that we can learn the hardest lessons, and it is those failures that strengthen our resolve to eventually succeed. If there’s a lesson to learn from Murray’s victory, it’s that champions are formed from failure; not from success. Adversity is ubiquitous (and perhaps it is nowhere more present than in pensions), but triumph over adversity is rare and admirable. Success, as they say, isn’t measured by the fewest number of times one falls down, but by the greatest number of times one gets back up.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same;”

What can we (the Pensions industry) learn from Andy Murray and his Wimbledon victory, in order to solve the pensions crisis? How can we raise our game to repair pension deficits, improve member security and design a pensions and savings system fit for the 21st Century?

4 Replies to “Pensions – Two sets down, can we come back?”

  1. Good point Robert, However I wouldn’t share the “impossible is nothing” quote. This depends whom your dealing with. You obviously work with a high performing team at Redington. So go and lead the way.

  2. Spot on! This industry has to unify behind a common purpose though, it needs to believe it can set oen and achieve it. One of the greatest achievement of Andy is also how he leads this team. He is the one unifying them in my view.

  3. There seems to be no limit to the number of analogies that the pensions industry can draw from other, apparently unrelated, events. But Andy Murray’s comeback from two sets down at Wimbledon may top the lot!

    “What can we learn from it?”, you ask. Perhaps we should hire an adviser like Ivan Lendl. (And who is the Ivan Lendl of Pensions? Can’t be you: you’re Jason Bourne.) Or maybe pension schemes need a gluten-free investment policy. My choice would be neither of these: I’d want to have Judy and Kim watch us at work, egging us on, and giving us a hug when it’s all over.

    But is any of this going to work? After all, Andy won several matches from two sets down long before his final triumph at Wimbledon, or at any of the grand slams. In fact, he’s now done it six times in the past five years: twice each at Wimbledon and the French and US Opens.

    So it seems that coming back from two sets down is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for winning a tennis grand slam. No, the lesson for the pensions industry is to learn the right lessons.

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