comfort zone

Venus Williams on Leadership

Thanks to my friend Millie Bradley, I had the opportunity to meet Venus Williams and hear her speak at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Girl Scouts in Dallas a couple of weeks ago. She was an impressive 6 feet and 2 inches, towering above most of us with a big smile on her face. Her keynote speech was full of personal stories as she described what leadership means to her. Although you have probably heard these three points before, they are good reminders:

1. Challenge yourself to grow

Venus’ parents have clearly had a huge impact on her perspective. She described how her father always challenges her and Serena to try different things on the tennis court. He doesn’t want either of them to get complacent, sticking to what feels comfortable in tennis or life. Rather, he wants them to constantly stretch and challenge themselves to do better – even when it feels like there isn’t a need.

2. Have a “can do” attitude

Venus laughed as she said, “In my family ‘can’t’ is a four letter word. We were NOT allowed to use that word in our home!”  She shared how her parents always pushed her to find a way to make things work, developing her tenacity and creativity. As evidenced by her impressive track record, there is tremendous power in having a winning, “can do” mindset.

3. Look for the lessons in your failures

As you know, how we handle our failures can have a huge impact on our future successes. Venus shared how losing a big match impacted her.  She often took it really hard, getting depressed and going into her cave for days. Eventually, she realized the value of making mistakes. She laughed as she said, “It’s okay to make the same mistakes twice. It just means you didn’t learn the lesson you needed to the first time. But I draw the line at making the same mistake thrice. You better have it figured out by then!”

So with those important reminders from Venus, how are you going to put them into play for yourself? Take a look at the questions below to get started:

  • What will you do this week to stretch outside your comfort zone, even if it’s just a little bit?

  • What one thing can you do this week to have a more positive outlook, focusing on what you CAN do?

  • What was the toughest lesson you learned this year? How will you take that lesson forward into next year?

As always, identify one small step that you will take this week. You know I’m a firm believer that small steps can lead to big results.