When Opportunity Knocks
We have to maintain faith that if we continue to put in great effort, build non-transactional relationships and work to hone our craft, opportunity will knock.
It’s a fun time of year in sports.
Football is underway, baseball playoff races are intensifying, and the FIBA World Cup has provided exciting basketball games during a typically dead period for the sport.
But there’s also a relevant story in tennis we might want to draw from.
After a disappointing defeat in the opening round of Wimbledon in July, highly-ranked women’s player Coco Gauff went looking for help with her forehand and serve — and turned to an unlikely source to find it.
Gauff, 19 years old, called former top coach and current ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert, now 62, and asked if he’d work with her.
Gilbert, a former professional, was more than a decade removed from coaching top-level players, but jumped at the chance to assist Gauff.
Today, less than two months after their partnership began, Gauff plays a quarterfinal match in the U.S. Open.
Why is the story significant to us — even if we have little interest in tennis?
1. We can remain relevant even if we’re not technically “in the game”
Gilbert was long removed from coaching the stars, but he continued to make a name for himself and stay around the sport with his sharp TV analysis and his authenticity.
In leadership, we often think we need the title or the position to be seen or to remain relevant. But even if we’re out of a job or not exactly where we want to be, we can continue to work at our craft and hone our skills while keeping our name out there.
If we’re entering this fall unemployed or not in the exact position we’d hoped, we can still make progress in our careers by networking and learning some new skills. The behind-the-scenes work we put in now can go a long way toward earning us a future position.
2. We never know when opportunity will call
It wasn’t until Gauff’s disappointing Wimbledon defeat that Gilbert received an exciting new opportunity — despite not having coached top talent in years.
It would’ve been easy in that stretch for him to believe that his best days had passed him by or that he’d just finish out his tennis career with ESPN. But the truth is that we never know when the next chance may come or who’s observing our work from afar — even if we don’t directly see them.
As leaders, we have to maintain belief that if we continue to put in great effort, build non-transactional relationships and work to hone our craft, opportunity will knock.
When it does, it’s on us to hold serve.