What is success? How do you personally define someone who is successful? Is it the person who makes the most money? Lives in the biggest house? Perhaps it is the one who has built a business, sold it for millions, and is retired at an early age, free to do whatever he or she wants. Maybe it is the family man whose number one priority is being a good spouse and parent.
We all have our own definitions of what makes a person "successful" and of what we need to achieve in our own lives to call ourselves successful. There are many versions of "success" but there is one trait that I have noticed over the years that all successful people have----they always seem to smile and laugh a lot. People who are truly successful have one very important thing in common, they're happy people. I'm not talking about artificial, cheerleader happy, I mean genuinely happy.
Now, the question arises, what is it that makes them so happy? Finding what will make you happy, and then finding a way to do it for the rest of your life is, in my opinion, the secret to success.
I believe that our career choices have a great deal to do with our level of happiness. Most people spend a good portion of their day at work, or traveling to or from their office yet how many people do you know who truly love their jobs? I know a few, but I also know many more who love the result of their jobs, the big paycheck and the lifestyle that it allows, but really do not enjoy the day to day process of their careers.
What does any of this have to do with tennis? Actually quite a bit. If you're reading this column, you obviously have an interest in, or love of, the game. If you're a junior player, college and career might be a just a few years away. If you're a senior player, maybe you're retired and looking for something else to do. Or maybe, just maybe, you're that corporate executive who's had enough of the commute to the city, the long business trips away from your family and those late night meetings that get you home an hour or two after the kids have gone to bed.
Could there be a career in tennis for you? Absolutely. There are countless options out there that will allow you to not only be involved with the game, but to earn a good living while doing so. For example, maybe you could teach.
This is the path I chose and, in fact, is what I wanted to do all along. I never had any dreams of playing on the pro tour, which was good, because I was nowhere near good enough, but I've always loved to teach. Ever since my first coach asked me to demonstrate a shot during one of his lessons, I knew that I wanted to teach.
Teaching allows me to be on the court hitting balls, be with people, help them improve, have fun and to basically make them feel good. Is there money in teaching tennis? Absolutely, depending upon where you teach and how your pursue your career.
Some pros simply like to give their lessons and then go home. While this is a great way to make a living, it does limit your income potential and what happens when you get older and can't teach so many hours?
If you're looking into teaching as a career you do need to think about the future. Becoming a Head Pro or a Tennis Director, where you still teach but also have others teaching for you is an excellent way to go.
If your expertise is business, you should look into club management or perhaps even owning a club. These areas will allow you to benefit from your education and training in an arena that you truly enjoy.
Do you like sales? Every tennis company in the world needs, and is frequently hiring, a strong sales force. I'm sure you've seen these people at the facility where you play. They come with the latest equipment and sell to the Pro Shop managers. Sales reps with good companies can do VERY well financially.
Are you young, with a limited education, but love tennis? Maybe you're retired and looking for a way to fill the hours. If so, there are jobs in the tennis business for you. Every tennis facility needs front desk, pro shop and maintenance help. You could start there and work your way up the ladder.
These are just a few of the opportunities available in tennis. I have not even discussed the technical or business aspects of the business. All of the major tournaments, and tennis organizations have staffs and are frequently hiring.
The United States Tennis Association always has an active classified section as do other sites on the Internet. I hired one of my assistants last summer via the Internet. He was a 22 year-old from the mid-west who had not yet finished college, but loved tennis and was looking for a career in the industry. I brought him to my summer club where he did a great job. I then hired him to work at my indoor club where he's not only teaching, but also working behind the front desk learning the business, while he builds his clientele.
So, a career in tennis is not exclusively for those that are, or were, great players. There are opportunities available for people with all interests and abilities and there is most probably something there for you.
Last month I talked about "picking our battles" with our children so that they don't tune us out and miss the important messages. To me, this is one of the most important messages that we, as parents, should try to get across. I don't want my children to become trapped in a career simply for the lifestyle that it will afford them. I want them to find an area that they enjoy, figure out a way to make a living in some aspect of that area, and then work like crazy to learn and improve their skills.
We all spend a large portion of our lives at our jobs. To spend that time doing something we really don't enjoy, counting the years until retirement, is an awfully rough way to live your life.
It IS possible to get up in the morning, go to work actually looking forward to getting to the office, but only if you're happy with what you're doing. If you can accomplish this, then you'll have found the true secret to success.