What a month it has been!
They are all busy and eventful, but sometimes a month just stands out because the things that occurred connect more acutely. March was such a month for me.
Putting aside the abhorrent inhumanity of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – which I am sure touches us all deeply – I was impacted by the three events so I wanted to share some thoughts on them. Please read with the mindset of stimulating ideas, rather than critiquing the perfection of the summaries, as I have sought to be cursory.
Ash Barty’s retirement
People love an underdog story and Ash Barty has been a memorable one. A junior Wimbledon champion at 15, she retired at 18 having lost her love for the game. Her dear friend Casey Dellacqua supported Ash to give tennis another go. Their friendship and doubles successes were influential to Ash rediscovery her passion for the sport. She gave it her all and went on to hold the world #1 ranking for a total of 121 weeks, winning 3 Grand Slam titles. She shocked the world by retiring at 25, on her terms having achieved her two major tennis goals: winning the Wimbledon Open title in 2021 and Australian Open title in 2022.
Shane Warne’s passing
For a while, champion Test cricketer Shane Warne (Warney) was also an underdog. He wanted to play AFL football but wasn’t good enough, so he fell back to his cricket. He bowled leg spin – which normally qualified you for guest appearances on certain tours and cricket pitches. He didn’t fit the bill of a professional cricketer of the current era. He smoked and partied. His first two tests combined for 1/228 (terrible results, for the non-cricketers). He went on to become one of the finest bowlers ever, changing the way spin bowling was perceived and inspiring millions of young cricketers around the world.
Charlie with Shane Warne Dec 2018
Will Smith’s eruption
Rapper, actor and producer Will Smith sat on the edge of the Academy Award stage, on the edge of a coveted “Best Actor” achievement when a senseless joke about Will’s wife sent him over the edge. Will stormed on stage and slapped the offender, Chris Rock. It was behaviour unbecoming of any situation never mind when you are about to be crowned the best amongst your peers. I feel this was an out of character act from what I know of Will Smith. Was it the pressure of being favourite that saw Will’s red veil descend? Only Will can fully appraise why, but what matters now is how he responds and self-justification has no value.
I am bringing these three events together because I want to:
Be like Ash by finding the perspectives on what is important, as Ash always did. She has demonstrated the value of striving for goals whilst being comfortable in the person you are and not allowing yourself to be defined by external pressure or your current circumstances. She constantly demonstrated how good humans can be, and she can do that without the platform of tennis.
Be like Warney by forgiving my past imperfections, as Shane did. His amazing on-field successes came with some glaring off-field misfires. He quietly went about doing prolific charity work and was always open and approachable to people no matter what his circumstances. He couldn’t change the past, but through kindness he extended the reach of his legacy.
Be like I want Will to be: reflective and honest about what transpired, especially when I get things wrong. Like Warney, Will won’t be able to sweep aside the past but he can change the impact he has on the future. His loss of control in a mad moment has the potential to be more than a confusing and embarrassing mishap. We absolutely need visible leadership to reduce the impact of violence in this precious world. Step up Will!
On a personal level, March was a memorable month with 4 fabulous cohorts completing Professional Negotiation Skills training; seeing so many lovely photos of A Fraction Stronger, including on a “Best Sellers” stand at Melbourne International Airport; radio, podcasting, and written article opportunities to promote the book; and the most treasured of all: regular feedback of how A Fraction Stronger has assisted people to find belief and possibility.
Keep striving. Be strong.