Dave Kerpen | The Only Way to Win is to Stay in The Game
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The Only Way to Win is to Stay in The Game

The Only Way to Win is to Stay in The Game

Exhausted, embarrassed, desperate.

That’s how I felt, down 6-0, 1-0 last night, at my first league tennis match of the season. I had taken a break from playing tennis over most of the Summer, I had moved up to a more competitive league for the Fall, and I was struggling, really badly.

The game begun and from the start, my game simply wasn’t on. My forehand was all over the place, and my backhand, usually the strongest element of my game, wasn’t scoring winners. I couldn’t get my first serve in and my opponent was destroying my second serve. I lost the first set, 6-0, and none of the six games were even close.

After I lost the first game of the second set, I stood there on the court, nearly in tears. I felt embarrassed for moving up. I felt out of my league. I felt so tired and frustrated, I nearly quit and walked off the court.

Then something happened. Out of nowhere, my opponent’s old knee injury started flaring up. He mentioned that he was in some pain but wanted to keep playing. And I won that game, and the next game, and the next game. Suddenly my confidence was back, and I was hitting the ball better, and winning points.

I won six straight games and won the second set, 6-1, forcing a 3rd and deciding set. In the 3rd set, I was up 2-1. And then my opponent quit. He said he couldn’t take the pain anymore and “it was getting late.” I had won the match, 0-6, 6-1, 2-1(retired)!

The interesting thing is, at the time, I was in pain and losing confidence in my game again. But my opponent didn’t know that, and I wasn’t about to quit, no matter what. So I ended up winning the game, just by being wiling to stay in it.

If you stay in the game, anything can happen.

The only way to win is to stay in the game.

Obviously, this is a metaphor for business and life. If you have a startup, and it’s struggling, it may or may not work, but if you quit, it definitely won’t work. The only way to succeed is to persist.

If you are way off of your sales quota, you may or may not hit quota, but you definitely won’t hit quota if you quit. The only way to succeed is to stay in the game and persist.

If you are struggling to find a soul mate to spend the rest of your life with, you may or may not ever find someone, but you definitely won’t find someone if you give up. The only way to find true love is to stay in the game. (And as someone who dated for years, I know how hard that can be, but I ended up winning the lottery here and marrying up at least 3 levels).

If you are struggling to find a job you love, you may or may not ever find your dream job. But you definitely won’t find and land your dream job if you give up trying. The best (and really only) way to find your dream job is to keep trying until you win.

I know, winning that tennis match last night because my opponent got injured and couldn’t stay in the game, isn’t exactly the most dignified, exciting way to win a tennis match. Nonetheless, it goes into the record books as a win.

Whether you’re playing sports, building a business, trying to make sales quota, looking for love, in search of your dream job, or anything else, the only way to win is to stay in the game. Good luck, and keep at it!

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