Pensions – Two sets down, can we come back?

Posted on July 14, 2013


photo-1The enormity of Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon last Sunday still hasn’t quite sunk in across our nation.

After 3 hours and 9 minutes Andy managed to beat World Champion Novak Djokovic and become Britain’s first Wimbledon Men’s champion since Fred Perry in 1936.

@adidasUK 7 Jul “After the hurt, pain and tears. He came back. Stronger. Faster. Better. #allinformurray the 2013 Wimbledon Champion”

Andy’s pathway to success carries many of the hallmarks of high performance. The last 10,000 hours of Andy’s career has seen a transformational change in his mindset, his physique and his resulting game. Although tennis is an individual and pugilistic sport between two individuals in the match, the focus and preparation happening every minute of every day outside of a match is definitely a team one. And Andy has a super team. His mother, Judy; father, Willie; his brother, Jamie; and his girlfriend and best friend, Kim form his network of support. He also has a sturdy coach in former Grand Slam winner Ivan Lendl, and fitness coach Jez Green. In his speech immediately following his victory, Murray said to his team, “I know I’m not a particularly easy person to manage and thank you for your support.” Like all great teams, this one is united by a common purpose, which is to create a tennis World Champion in Andy Murray by helping him master the five key areas of high performance: mental, physical, tactical, technical and spiritual.

“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”
– William Arthur Ward

Andy’s arrival in the ATP top 5 was supported by his tactical and technical tennis skills honed over 10,000 hours training as a junior tennis player. However, in order to beat Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic and win a grand slam, he needs to be master of all five areas. Ivan Lendl has given him the coaching and mental fortitude needed to be a grand slam winner, demonstrated by the player’s breathtaking comeback from two sets down in the Men’s quarter finals against Fernando Verdasco. And Andy’s fitness coach has transformed Andy’s diet, which is now completely gluten free and combined with physical training so that Andy has gone from looking tall and lanky to toned and ripped. The fifth is perhaps the hardest: the spiritual resilience to win is often underestimated and badly understood. Great winners win because they find a way to believe they can. It’s not easy. For Murray, perhaps it was even harder because of his close call last year: after being a set up against Roger Federer, he ended up losing the match.

“I learned a lot from last year’s Wimbledon and the one thing that really stands out is I now know how I need to play to win the big matches”, said Murray, “I didn’t come away from that (Wimbledon) final against Federer doubting myself, I didn’t have any regrets. However, I think I’ll be in a better place mentally than last year.

To become a champion – to succeed in achieving a lofty goal – tennis players and us regular people must learn from their mistakes and turn them into strengths. It’s only through failure that we can learn the hardest lessons, and it is those failures that strengthen our resolve to eventually succeed. If there’s a lesson to learn from Murray’s victory, it’s that champions are formed from failure; not from success. Adversity is ubiquitous (and perhaps it is nowhere more present than in pensions), but triumph over adversity is rare and admirable. Success, as they say, isn’t measured by the fewest number of times one falls down, but by the greatest number of times one gets back up.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same;”

What can we (the Pensions industry) learn from Andy Murray and his Wimbledon victory, in order to solve the pensions crisis? How can we raise our game to repair pension deficits, improve member security and design a pensions and savings system fit for the 21st Century?