nadal.bmpJuega cada punto como si fuera el ultimo: “Play every point as though it were the last – of the game, of the match, of the day, of your life.” This is the philosophy of tennis star Rafael Nadal, currently ranked #1.

Ever find yourself “calling in your performance,” not being fully present in the moment, not giving your best? I know that I catch myself coasting occasionally, not giving my all, not living completely in the now. While we all need our down time, our rest time, our relaxation and recuperation moments, it also is vitally important that we be able to summon our best at will.

That ability to be our best is particularly important in the core areas of our lives. In those areas we have defined as most important to us, whether they be career or family or community, we must be able to perform consistently at our best. A best that we should forever be honing, refining, and improving.

Rafael’s coach, Toni Nadal, (also his uncle, nationally ranked in Spain before turning to coaching) says that Rafael plays with such incredible intensity “out of respect for the sport. If you are going to do a thing, do it absolutely the best you can.” (New York Times Magazine, June 21, 2009.)

Interestingly, Toni denies ever saying those words directly to his nephew. Instead, it was part of his family culture: “In my family, there were lots of things my father said to me. You just see them, in the attitude.” Essentially, we teach our kids (and others around us) more by our actions and deeds than by our words.

Toni went on to say that “from the time Rafael was little, he’d win that first point of the match, which nobody pays much attention to, and he’d yell, ‘Vamos!’ All pumped up. Let’s go!” Since his youth, then, Rafael paid attention to the detail others often thought not worthy of attention. Young Rafael fought hard from the get-go. Furthermore, Rafael trained with the same ferocity: “As he grew up, he got used to training as though each point were the last. And you play like you train.”

As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. Intensity pays.