Recently, while participating as a guest speaker at a PTR Symposium in Guadalajara, Mexico, I had the great fortune to share many hours with the legendary Nick Bollettieri. I watched and listened to him carefully, and what I learned those two days really shocked me about him.
I met Mr. Bollettieri as a student at his academy back in the 1980’s. Many years later I also had brief conversations with him during tennis events and tournaments. I have always had the highest respect for Nick as a true pioneer in the tennis coaching profession, but just recently I came to realize that his success is not only because of his ability to recognize and produce champions but of his core beliefs and the way he views life.
Here are the 5 things that I learned from Nick Bollettieri while we shared some time during a trip to Mexico. I think this applies to any profession:
- GIVE TO OTHERS.
Nick wants to be a difference maker in people’s lives. He helps everyone, regardless of age, athletic level or financials, not thinking what he will get out of it. If any money it will come on its own, and if not, he would still be satisfied with the positive impact he can make in their lives. He says, “If you learned one thing from me today, I have succeeded”. Nick told me that his biggest dream is to help underprivileged kids and that is exactly what he is doing.
He will never compare himself to other coaches nor criticize anyone. He believes that all coaches are good people and will not say one single bad thing about them. I heard that over the years several coaches did not say all good things about him, but Nick refused to say anything bad about them, to the contrary, he would praise them. He rather uses his energy to improve himself and other people’s lives.
- BE POSITIVE.
Nick has enjoyed every minute of his life. In two days I did not hear one negative word come out of his mouth. He did not complain once about anything (remember he is 78), something that many of us always do when traveling abroad (delays, food, traffic, service, etc). He was always happy and appreciated the opportunity.
- DON’T STOP LEARNING.
As one of the biggest names in the history of tennis coaching, Nick wants to learn from everyone, even from his own students. I saw him sitting at other speaker's presentations to see what might he learn. He asks questions and wants to know about everyone. Yes, Mr. Bollettieri wants to learn from all of us.
- OBSERVE AND LISTEN BEFORE TALKING.
As incredible as he is with words and with such a charismatic personality, I noticed that most of the time Nick was quietly observing and listening to people. While others are doing plenty of talking, Nick analyzed people and situations. He waited for his chance to talk and came up with the most concise and accurate assessment. He believes that coaches need to listen more to their students.
Thomas E. Anderson
President & Founder of USP