Special Guest Blogger – Kim Tran

I recently started playing squash on a regular basis at the beginning of this year. As someone who is high in energy and enjoys fast-paced sports I find squash to be the perfect workout for me as it is quick one of the greatest calorie-burning sports out there (hence you only need to play for 30 mins to burn off your lunch), requires constant concentration and focus and is a fantastic outlet as it allows me to get my heart rate up after a day of sitting in the office. Although I have only been playing properly for a short time, I have already learned a number of important lessons from squash that are applicable to life and business outside of the sport:

 1. It’s not about winning

The reality is you will win some and you will lose some. If you can’t handle a loss every now and then, life will be very tough for you and besides, you wouldn’t be a very good sportsman! Instead of focussing on winning against others, the focus should be on achieving a goal and continuous personal improvement. I’m a firm believer that you should be as gracious in victory as you are in defeat.

2. Sun Tzu – know your enemy and know yourself

Sun Tzu famously quoted in his book The Art of War: “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”

This is true in everything from the squash court to life and work. What is your opponent’s weaknesses, strengths and preferences? Is he right-handed or left-handed player? From a business point of view – do you know your client’s interests, needs and expectations? Do you know what your own capabilities are to meet those needs, and do you know the areas you need to improve on? Having this knowledge and awareness is crucial to a successful outcome, both on court and off.

3. It’s not about speed, but about how you play the shot

On the squash court you’ll find players with all sorts of different playing styles. You may find some younger players are quite good at the game, but in some cases this may because they are relying on their physical fitness, the power and speed at which they hit their shots, rather than the strategy, technique and accuracy of each shot. The drawback of this playing style is that it becomes harder to maintain the quality of their game as players get older and you will find that more often than not, their game declines with their physical fitness and speed as they age.

The players who remain successful in their game as they continue to age (sometimes well into their 80s!) are those who set in the good habits early of playing a game based on hitting accurate, well-thought out shots with proper technique, as this method is not dependent on speed or physical fitness (to a certain extent).

The same rule applies to business and life. It’s not about how fast and hard you can go, but about the quality of your actions.

4. Don’t give up

For me, squash is 80% mental, 20% physical. If my mind is not in the game, or does not believe that I can do it or thinks the ball is too far away to reach, I won’t hit a good shot. However, there have been times where I’ve amazed myself at what I can do, when my brain isn’t frustratingly stopping my body from doing what it can!

I think the same applies to life and business. If you put your mind to it, you will be amazed to see what you are truly capable of.