Did you know Serena Williams: * is playing in her 10th Wimbledon women’s singles final tomorrow?
* was fighting for her life ten months ago after giving birth to her first child?
* had blood clot complications following her emergency C-section - and the subsequent surgeries and recovery left her so debilitated that “walking to the mailbox was a struggle?”
* suffered potential career-ending injuries in 2011, including two foot surgeries and a pulmonary embolism, and didn’t know if she'd “get out of the hospital,” much less play tennis again?
Yet, Serena has not only bounced back from those health challenges, she is poised to go for her 30th Grand Slam tournament title (including doubles, the most of anyone).
I can only imagine Serena was tempted to give up when she was hurting, when she could hardly walk, when she was enduring the grueling physical therapy and training workouts to regain her health and get back into playing condition.
It would have been so easy to give up when the odds were against her and it all looked so bleak.
But she wasn’t finished. As she says, “My story isn’t over yet."
Serena wasn’t willing to turn her back on her talent. She believed she still had greatness in her, more championships to win, even though she was in the desert of her dream.
Instead of abandoning her dreams, she re-dedicated herself and chose to use those setbacks and challenges as an INCENTIVE instead of as an EXCUSE.
As a result of fighting for what’s important to her, she’s reached a well-deserved oasis of success that's not a mirage; it is a hard-won reality.
She is reaping the rewards of persevering through the dark days … even when there were no guarantees.
How about you? Are you in the desert of your dream?
Are things not working out the way you hoped? Have you received bad news? Are people not seeing what you’re seeing, not believing what you’re believing?
If you’re a startup or small business owner, are you not making the money you need?
If you work in an organization, are you not getting the projects or promotions you deserve?
If you’re out of work, are you not getting the interviews, call-backs or offers you deserve?
Could you “pull a Serena” and persevere through the desert of your dream?
Could you tell yourself, "My story's not over yet."
Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Every successful person will tell you there were setbacks along the way that, at the time, seemed unsurmountable, that could have drained their confidence and caused them to quit.
Instead, they chose to transcended doubts and live forward. In doing so, they re-established momentum and moved closer to achieving what they envisioned in their heart and mind's eye.
As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
He also said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
If you are facing setbacks, if you are in the desert of your dream, remember the shining example of Serena Williams.
See those setbacks as incentive rather than as an excuse.
Believe in your dream. Believe in yourself. Believe that what you want matters. And then, continue. Always continue.
P.S. I know where I'll be tomorrow morning ... watching the person #Nike and #TheNewYorker both called "The Greatest Athlete of our Time" play at #Wimbledon and show us what it takes to be a true champion. How about you?