Maria Sharapova spent years playing tennis five hours a day, seven days a week. The result? Five grand slam wins. And an Olympic medal. Her career is a lesson in grit and determination. And shows that hard work really does pay off. Now, Maria brings that same determination to her business career. This week, Maria shares the secret to staying motivated in any job…even if you aren’t a world class athlete.
Carly: You were pro by age 14 and won Wimbledon by age 17. We’re close in age and so at the time, you were in my peer set a little bit. And I was like, "Oh, that's so cool.” I didn't really appreciate just how crazy that is for a kid. I know what I was like at 14, I know what I was like at 17. What was that like? What was your personality like, both on the court and at home? How much of a kid were you?
Maria: My entire upbringing was very untraditional. The entire path of education and how I studied to how I trained and played tennis for probably seven days a week for five hours a day...it was very different to what kids were doing and teenagers were doing at that time. I think the path was very different and it set my mind to work differently. I was on a mission.
I had this fearless mentality that I'm in this individual sport, I'm doing something very different, I love what I do. Some days I win, some days I lose, but I feel like I'm getting better. And I constantly had this fire to keep getting better…. While I was playing, I always had this mentality that I want to feel like I haven't won anything yet, that I keep striving to win as if I don't have anything. That I don't have the financial security, that I don't necessarily have those victories and those titles.
Carly: We talk a lot on this show about anxiety and how successful people deal with it, mask it, where it shows up for them. Where did it show up for you as an athlete? Did it show up for you?
Maria: I think pressure and anxiety are quite different. Pressure was this feeling that I came across many times and I found a lot of value in that because I feel that that's where I've really tested myself. Because when you're in the back courts and training in front of your team, there's not a lot on the line. But so much of being an athlete was not showing how great you are on court 21, it was showing how great you were on center court and then doing it for 12 months out of the year.
Carly: ....Did you have anxiety walking onto the court?
Maria: ....When I would play a night match…. I'd do a little warm up in my hotel gym in the morning, and then I had lunch in my hotel room, and then I'd take a 45 minute nap. And I don't remember one nap that I didn't wake up from before a match and just said to myself, "Let's go." Like, "It's time. It's time to go." I loved being at that stage because why else would you be training all those hours? Why else would you wake up so early in the morning and beat yourself up over a mistake in the net? It is to look forward to those big stages.
Skimm'd by Alex Carr and Peter Bonaventure.
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