I was watching the women’s finals of the Australian Open when Serena Williams stepped forward to accept her trophy and huge paycheck. Yes, she had won a very important tournament and she had also won her 19th Gram Slam tournament. That had secured her a place in tennis history, surpassing the incredible accomplishments of other tennis “greats” like Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.
During her speech, Serena said when she started playing tennis at the tender age of four, she only had three things: (1) A Ball, (2), and Racket, and (3) A Dream.
A ball, a racket and a dream.
Today, she is one of the most accomplished tennis players that ever graced center court.
It makes me wonder: What do we really need to be great?
Many people think that you need lots of money, lots of support, and lots of education. Those things definitely help; they certainly don’t hurt.
Others think that you need good luck. That doesn’t hurt either…and it certainly can help but it certainly is not something that I rely upon.
Still other people are convinced that without the above items (money, support, education, luck, etc.), success and greatness will always be an elusive goal.
It is so tempting to think that success and greatness are dependent on factors over which you have no control. People see these external items and conditions then they start to believe that these are the reasons for a person’s success (or lack thereof).
Not true. Serena’s Williams’s acceptance speech made that perfectly clear.
Sure, she could have believed that without the right equipment, a highly trained professional coach, attendance at countless training camps, and the perfect shoes by Nike or Adidas (actually she wears Puma), she was not positioned to be good (much less great) at tennis. But she is a champion. Other player on the circuit did, indeed, have these advantages. Some of them are having (or have had) a great career in the sport. Obviously, these advantages did not hurt them and, in fact, might have helped them.
If you ask what a person really needs to be successful, these items were not the important factor.
What does a person really need to be great?
Let’s return to Serena’s list: A ball, a racket, and a dream.
I think that we can all agree that greatness is not found in a tennis ball or racket. Or in a pair of shoes (perhaps not even Nike’s fantastic LeBron 12 basketball shoes). Or attendance at an expensive sports camp, Ivy League school, or a famous music or dance school. Or in a huge trust fund or access to an unlimited line of credit.
Let’s focus on the “dream” part of Serena’s speech. There are different aspects of this “dream.”
First, the “dream” is the vision, the focus, and the desire that a person moves towards. It is the reason that someone gets out of bed and burns the midnight oil. It is the light at the end of the tunnel. Every champion has a dream. Every “great” person has a dream. The “dream” is held by great people in every profession. The “dream” is supreme.
Second, the “dream” comes from within. The “dream” is personal and individual. It is not an external item, circumstance, or situation. The “dream” is the inner drive that moves someone towards a goal. The “dream” is the infinite energy.
Great people have the “dream.”
It all starts with the “dream.”