Ambitious individuals like entrepreneurs and entertainers love watching professional tennis because it is such a tough sport. Every point is a battle, and no matter what the score it is, anything can happen until you win the last point. To make things worse — by the end of any professional tournament, only one player remains undefeated.

In Paris, this man was once again Rafael Nadal.

Nadal won the French Open for a record-breaking ten times, which is especially remarkable because Roland Garros is arguably the toughest Grand Slam to win, pushing competitors to their physical and mental limits.

Undoubtedly, he is a very special athlete who incorporates so many traits that define success:

For example:

  • He is a warrior on the tennis court, who demonstrates passion and a fighting spirit that inspires even people who don’t usually follow the sport.
  • He always competes in a fair and professional manner.
  • He works incredibly hard to continuously improve his game.
  • He has very specific routines that help him show up feeling energized and alert every time he steps on a tennis court.
  • And he keeps finding a new drive that allows him to overcome injuries and setbacks, allowing him to keep making a comeback that surprised even his biggest supporters.

However, what makes Rafa a unique role model to high performers around the world is that he offers the living proof that we can combine relentless success with being a true mensch — arguably the magic formula to truly stand out in any industry.

For a starter, he is extremely warm and humble.

I remember for instance when he played my tournament in Thailand in 2010, Nadal was the number one player in the world — it was such a huge deal to have him come to our event. So when he finally arrived, the whole country was ecstatic — from the Prime Minister to our sponsors, everyone wanted to meet him.

Rafa did the usual meet and greets — he even went far and beyond what was expected from him. He met various dignitaries in person, flew with us to another city for a promotional activity that was not planned in advance and took pictures with all our VIP’s.

What surprised me most though was the manner in which he tried to please as many people as he could, being incredibly respectful to fans, ballboys and tournament staff despite the many promotional appearances that had been scheduled. No wonder he became the favorite to so many fans in Thailand and around me the world.

Rafa is also extremely loyal:

While many athletes keep changing their coaches, agents, and sponsors on a regular basis, Nadal is surrounded by the same chore team that has helped him storm the tennis scene when he was a young boy. They are like family to him. By appreciating their efforts, he is able to tap into the kind of unconditional team support that helps him pull through almost any challenge he faces.

Rafa has also been endorsed by Nike and Babolat since his early teens. For sure, these are great brands who also pay him handsomely, but without a doubt Rafael is also the kind of guy who values sponsors who supported him from his childhood, and stood by him in good and more difficult times — he is all about maintaining long term relationships which ironically increases his value towards sponsors in significant ways.

And Rafa is exceptionally friendly:

I used to think I was special when Rafa would approach me to give me a big hug whenever he saw me at events — but I was not! I quickly discovered that he hugs anyone he knows! This is so uncommon in the tennis world where stars try and avoid people as much as they can during big tournaments.

In short, Rafa possesses two seemingly contradictory character traits that make him the perfect role model for anyone striving long term success:

On the tennis court, he constantly pushes his limits and fights as if his life depended on a victory.  Yet off the

Yet off the court, he shows up being a very humble, respectful and warm individual and is able to captivate the hearts of fans wherever he goes.

This combination of pursuing excellence with maintaining authentic social values is what transforms world class athletes into global icons, turns entrepreneurs into long popular celebrities and entertainers into real superstars.

It is the secret spice that will help anyone of us take our skills and ambitions to the next level and connect with people and prospects in meaningful ways — because in the end, everyone enjoys supporting individuals who are warm, humble, loyal and friendly.

Nadal’ steam celebrating his win at the ATP 1000 event in Madrid where he beat Dominic Thiem in the final.

And it is also the reason why so many fans around the world will be wishing that Rafa defends his title in Paris again, twelve months from now.

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