Our Serve: Start Where You Are
Sports stars often stun us with their skill and sometimes make us laugh at their TV commercials, yet rarely do they inspire us or provide something to think about.
One notable exception was Arthur Ashe, both a consummate champion and a quiet-spoken man of insight. I mention this because he once said something that helps me collect my wits when I wake up worrying about the day’s immediate problems and the ones that lie ahead. “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can,” he said, and these 12 deceptively simple words contain much wisdom.
“Start where you are.” In order to start where I am, I first need to know where I am. In business terms this means I can’t begin to deal with a problem until I determine its true nature and my position in relation to it. Only when I know where I am can I begin to see possible solutions (often there are several) and select the one with the highest probability of success.
“Use what you have.” Maybe my toolbox doesn’t contain the ideal implements for the job, but instead of throwing up my hands and giving up because nothing can be done, I can employ what’s available. For example, let’s say my operation could use additional personnel but it’s not in the cards for the time being. However, it’s conceivable that I could improve the performance of the folks I do have by instituting a system of tangible rewards. Simply insisting that they work harder isn’t the answer; they need a reason to work harder other than holding onto their jobs. By doing so, I increase productivity (not to mention morale) without substantially increasing my costs.
“Do what you can.” Maybe the interior of my store or club is in need of a makeover, but I can’t afford it. However, I can probably find the money to improve the lighting so that it makes both the sales area and the products themselves look more attractive, and this in itself might improve revenue.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that Arthur Ashe provided a formula for not only solving problems but also making dreams come true. Regardless of whether you’re a tennis professional, a retailer or a sales manager, I believe the Ashe wisdom applies, yet don’t take my word for it because I don’t purport to be an expert or guru on any subject whatsoever. I’m merely suggesting you try it for yourself and see if it makes a difference. It won’t cost a penny.
On a broader scale, sometimes the tennis industry’s difficulties may seem to be insurmountable, but I really don’t think Mr. Ashe would see it that way.
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About the Author
Jeff Williams is co-publisher of Racquet Sports Industry magazine.