When Nancy and I woke up Sunday morning we turned on the Australian Open final match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. We hadn’t planned on watching, but the historically long, hard fought match caught our attention. We were drawn by the mental and physical battle of two outstanding tennis professionals, who also seem to be very likable. Nadal went up 4-2 in the 5th set and it looked like Djokovic had nothing left in the tank. But, obviously Djokovic was able to call on something in reserve to pull out the match. Later that day, I went on line to find an article about the match. I couldn’t find anything, other than the AP report, which really didn’t give me much of an insight.

Yesterday I found an Australian sportswriter’s article: Was it really the greatest tennis match of all time? I thought the writer made a very interesting point about how those who watched might view the match. He said:

In our ‘now’ or ‘on demand’ world everything is becoming short term. Our attention span is only so long before we move to the next entertainment in our lives. Rarely do we sit back and take stock of what has happened.

The need to tweet or update our status on Facebook has made this trend an enhanced phenomena. If you say you have seen the greatest tennis match ever before the next person then potentially there is more notoriety.

After meeting our daughter and son-in-law for brunch we came home and turned on the television again. This time we came across The Farmer’s Insurance Open golf tournament. We had not planned on watching, but we became spellbound watching Kyle Stanley, who was trying to win his first PGA tournament, blowing a 7-shot lead and melting down on the 18th and final hole to lead to a playoff loss. If you did not see it, and want to read about it, read the Seattle Times article: Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley blows 7-shot lead, loses in playoff | Golf. As you will see, Stanley stood on the tee at the 18th hole with a four shot lead. ( actually a three shot lead). His third shot on the par 5 hole was a wedge that hit the green with so much spin that it went into the water. He took a triple bogey 8 on the hole. As he said later, he could play the hole 1000 times and not take an 8. Indeed, on the first hole of the playoff, he birdied the same hole.

I am reminded of growing up watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and hearing Jim McKay say in the opening:

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport… the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition… This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports!

Certainly in one day, I witnessed the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but what does any of it have to do with you or practicing law? I think there are three lessons:

  1. As the Australian writer aptly pointed out, our attention span has shrunk to next to nothing. That means it is easier than ever before to be out of sight and out of mind to your clients and referral sources. That does not mean you should pester them, but you should find a reason they would value to stay in touch and always be on their radar screen.
  2. As for Kyle Stanley’ defeat, the lesson is you have to be willing to fail to be able to succeed. Seth Godin wrote a blog recently titled: Prepared to fail. He includes a great quote by David Chang: “We’re hoping to succeed; we’re okay with failure. We just don’t want to land in between.”
  3. As for both the events, the lesson is never give up and never assume you have the client or that you have arrived at success. Nadal was up 4-2 in the 5th set. I am certain many experts thought he was in control of the match and that Djokovic could not mentally or physically come back. In the golf tournament, the sponsors had already made out the winner’s check to Kyle Stanley. Everyone, including the eventual winner, Brandt Snedeker assumed Kyle Stanley had the win.