James Evans calls for a realistic appraisal of our own abilities in the context of Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph.
Like most British sports fans, I am on a euphoric high after an extraordinary weekend. The Lions pulled off a stunning 41-16 win over Australia, Chris Froome took the lead in the Tour de France after his stage victory in the Pyrenees, and on Sunday, Andy Murray became the first Briton to win the Men’s Singles title at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. Commenting upon Andy’s triumph, his mother Judy told the BBC: ‘It just goes to show there’s nothing wrong with dreaming, there’s nothing wrong with believing; and anything’s possible’.
I passionately want to believe her, and so do millions of other people. But people also need to be realistic about their potential. For example, as a 31 year-old with no discernible tennis-playing pedigree, I am never going to win Wimbledon. All of the elite tennis players have been pursuing their dreams from early childhood with a single-mindedness inevitably nurtured by ambitious tennis-mums or tennis-dads. Without Judy’s coaching, his parents’ sacrifices, and determination, Andy’s success would probably have been impossible. It is notable that Murray’s development into a multiple-grand-slam-winning tennis player was achieved outside the LTA support structure; arguably he is a champion in spite of, not because of, the national governing body!
In truth, most people see hopefulness, resilience and adaptability as the crucial elements for making it through life. These traits and their application to the vicissitudes of existence are encapsulated both in Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’, famously quoted at the entryway to Centre Court, and in the Frank Sinatra hit, ‘That’s Life’. Whilst human lives do hold incredible possibilities, people today must cope with an extraordinary pace of technological change, and also with a world where increasing levels of specialisation appear to define and limit their life opportunities. Many careers and aspirations seem to require a sportsman’s focus, drive, and desire for success. Andy Murray’s career reveals not an ‘Amazon’ charted by adventurous exploration, but an ‘Everest’ climbed with single-minded determination.
Many careers and aspirations seem to require a sportsman’s focus, drive, and desire for success.
In 1999, film director Baz Luhrmann unexpectedly topped the pop charts with ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’. The song’s narrator opined that ‘the most interesting people I know didn’t know at twenty-two what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting forty year-olds still don’t’. They will not be Wimbledon champions. In fact, in the brave new world of twenty-first century Britain, they could struggle to be anything at all. Job descriptions normally seem to expect ready-made, experienced and committed individuals. The internet, with its many possibilities, is a trap to snare and confuse the open-minded and uncertain jobseeker; hence perhaps the ubiquitous recruitment consultant…
In the context of the job market, realising the limitations of our choices and opportunities, as well as recognising the path to achieving our potential, are of great importance amidst the hurly-burly of today’s world. Happily, the problem of young people not in employment, education or training appears to be subsiding in the UK. Yet for those still looking, choosing to become the next Andy Murray is sadly not a realistic option.
James has a practical background in politics, serving as a local councillor since 2007, and has studied both law and history at university. When he’s not trying to separate the reality from the rhetoric, James embraces culture in all its forms – especially performance arts.