Rafael Nadal and Why We Need To Be Challenged

Back in the day, I was quite addicted to the PC Game Football Manager. I took Lancaster City from the 6th tier of English football, the BlueSquare North as it was called back then, to winning the Champions League. Twice.

With every promotion, new challenges arose. I would rebuild the squad for the new challenge, I would revisit my tactics. And then, the glory of beating Barcelona in the final of the Champions League.

And then what? It became too easy. So I stopped.

I needed the constant challenge. Winning every year wasn't fun if it wasn't a challenge.

I'm reminded, therefore, of the words of that well-known sage Rafael Nadal when he said:

One lesson I've learned is that if the job I do were easy, I wouldn't derive so much satisfaction from it. The thrill of winning is in direct proportion to the amount of effort I've put into it.

Yes, this is the first and only time I can compare myself to Rafael Nadal.

Not everyone follows the words of Nadal. One friend of mine played as Manchester United for approximately 78 seasons, winning the Champions League almost every year. He took no satisfaction from losing or being challenged as such, he just wanted to win every single time.

But I think he's an anomaly. 

I think that most of us fall into the Nadal camp. We need our work to be challenging, to be difficult. We need problems to overcome.

It's worth remembering this if you're ever dissatisfied at work and you don't know why. Or if you have employees and you're keen on keeping those employees and making sure they don't go to your competition.

Easy work is boring work.

So, if you're the latter and you have a team of people, you have a choice:

  • Churn through people and train them to do a very specific task
  • Train people to progress through a pathway

And if you're the former, you also have the choice. Be more Rafael, or not.

Published on Mar 29, 2023 by Gareth Cartman