Block Out the Noise

It is unlikely the name KEI NISHIKORI rings a bell unless you are an avid tennis fan. But I bet most of you would recognize ROGER FEDERER even if you have never watched a tennis game in your life. The latter has established himself as one of the all time, greatest tennis players. Like most, I had no idea who Kei Nishikori was when I went to the Sony Tennis Open this week. In fact, that was my first live tennis match, ever. I knew I was going to see Federer play, but who he was playing was a mystery. As Nishikori emerged from the back onto the court, the crowd was quiet. Of course, Federer got the complete opposite reaction; thousands of people erupted when he embraced us with his presence and many chanted his name. Nishikori was not fazed.  He emerged the victor, and it was Nishikori who advanced to the semi-final round that night after a spectacular and unforgettable performance.

We are often inspired by underdogs; those who are expected to fail before they’ve even started and manage to win! That match was one of those awe-inspiring moments that left me feeling truly impressed. The fact that Federer was the crowd favorite was obvious. After the first set, it appeared the win over Nishikori would be easy – Federer won that set 6-3. Nishikori knew better. Somehow, he was able to block out the noise of a stadium filled with Federer supporters. Nishikori kept his focus, and game after game he became more confident and more powerful. By the middle of the second set, it was clear this guy was a force to reckon with. If you did not know his name before, you knew it that night.

A singles tennis match is unlike other team sports such as basketball or football. As a player, you are on your own out there; you and your thoughts! Neither Federer nor Nishikori had the luxury that night of team members patting them on the back [or butt] to reassure them they could win. Each man had to figure out ways to defeat the other, both mentally and physically. It is the mental aspect that struck me most as I sat in the stadium watching an upset few anticipated. Nishikori was obviously aware he was facing an uphill battle that night. But he stayed resilient and strong and he proved to the world he was a worthy opponent.

We can learn a lot from Kei Nishikori – we can learn to block out the noise around us, stay focused, be confident, and achieve the unexpected. It starts by believing in ourselves!

Until Next Time,



On to the next one!

But Did you Die 2If I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve seen this meme of Mr. Chow [you know, the guy from the movie The Hangover, whose real name is Ken Jeong, and who in reality is also a licensed medical doctor] I would have a few hundred in my pocket.

It is often used, quite humorously in fact, to state the obvious: that in any given situation, no matter how difficult or extreme, you survived; you did not die! Obstacles are a part of life! Unfortunately, some face more roadblocks than others. We often hear the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But, this is not usually what a person wants to hear when that person feels like his/her entire world is crashing down. However, reflection after the fact, usually enables us to realize the power behind those words.

Each stage of our lives brings with it a new set of challenges. For my little brother in high school, this is the most difficult stage of his life. For my little sister getting ready to go to college, she has never been this overwhelmed. For a friend I ran into recently who graduated college and is trying to decide her next steps, she has never been more confused. For another friend in his first year of law school, wondering if he will ever make it to the second year, this is the most difficult thing he has ever had to do in his life. The interesting thing about all these people is that they believe they are going through the hardest, most challenging part of their lives. Not necessarily so.

We can all think back to a time in our lives when we felt we had been given all we could handle; and we wondered if we would ever overcome that obstacle or surpass that challenge. If you are reading this post, I say give yourself a huge round of applause because it means you have overcome! You are still surviving; you did not die! Most of us are more resilient than we think. We have more fighting power than we could ever imagine. We stumble and fall one day, but we rise to our feet the next. The next time life throws you a curve ball, and I guarantee you it will, ask yourself, “but did you die?” Then pick up the ball, and throw it right back!

Until next time,