An Afternoon on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court

I walked through the gates of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on the hot and humid Friday afternoon. I didn’t have an entourage and there weren’t thousands of fans awaiting my mid-afternoon match, but in a way, it felt like the actual US Open. The grounds are in their final preparations for the hundreds of thousands of fans who will soon descend on this final major site to crown another year of champions.

But here I was, a kid who dreamed of hoisting the Wimbledon trophy as a kid, walking the player tunnel where Mary Joe Fernandez interviews the players. Then I stood at the doorway where the players always wait to be introduced. And then in my head, my name was called and the fans went crazy for I am an American in the twilight of my career and this may be my last best chance to win!

And there I was, in Arthur Ashe Stadium, on the court. I’ve watched probably a dozen matches in this enormous building, but to be able to walk out with my racquets in hand was breath-taking.

I looked at the American flag whipping in the wind on the South end of the stadium. I looked at the box seats wrapped all the way around mid-level. I looked at the chairs. Incredible.

And just like it was a match, we started to hit. I must say, that the court is huge. I mean huge! But I have to say, it felt like home. Not only was I back on the court, but this court and building that I have been watching matches unfold on for over a decade, I was hitting forehands, baseline-to-baseline and cracking backhands to Andrew’s backhand.

I wish I could find the words how to describe the entire experience, but I can’t find them. It was never something I thought I would have the chance to do, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. After nearly an hour on the court, it was time to go and as if I had won the match at the US Open, I took a ball and smashed it into the stands for my fans.

Not bad for a Friday afternoon. Funny thing is, all I had to do to make this happen, was ask.

Andy Murray Comes of Age

On July 8, 2012, the Scot Andy Murray did something that no man had done in 74 years: Play in a Gentleman’s Singles Final at SW19, better know as Wimbledon. After four straight years in the semi-finals, he finally made it through, but waiting for him on the other side was probably the best player in the history of the men’s game: Roger Federer.

I must confess before I write any more: I have long been an Andy Murray fan, even writing a blistering letter to him at BackSeatFan.com.

I have defended him through his three grand slam final defeats where his set count was 0-9. Why my fellow tennis fans always asked me.

And my answer never seemed to be enough, but it has always been simple: The guy can flat out play. When he wants to, his forehand can be one of the best in the game. And hands down, his backhand can be lethal. But for the past four years, he hasn’t played offensive tennis. He’s the fittest player on tour and can play as long as anyone, but something wouldn’t let him be offensive.

Enter great Ivan Lendl and he has finally started to play like the man I’ve known he could be. He man has all the shorts in the game and one of the biggest hearts. That mentality is what endeared me to Rafael Nadal so many years ago. It’s who I am and who I would be if I were that good of a tennis player. It’s why I felt tears as I crossed the finish line of my marathon this past June.

Sadly, on July 8, I had to watch as Murray won the first set, squandered the second and watched in horror – but not surprise – as Federer took control and claimed his 17th Grand Slam title.

But here is where the story changes. I was gutted. I thought he had it. I thought the curse of Fred Perry had ended. But when Murray took the microphone and cried through his speech, he won over the hearts of every British tennis fan who had held back for so many years. My best friend’s brother even texted me, “I am a Murray fan now.”

So, why the sudden shift? Heart. Plain and simple. A man stood there in his Wimbledon whites with nearly the entire crowd and a heart-broken Kingdom cheering him on, and cried. He wanted to win as much for himself as them. And so another year goes by and the Kingdom must wait and wonder how long they must wait.

But here’s the thing: They have a champion in Murray. And for that, they and I am proud. It’s about the heart. Watch the video of his speech and judge for yourself.

FOCUS: Be Willing!

Selected Life Lesson
It’s not that you’re incapable … just unwilling.
-Courtney H’s Life Lesson from the Olathe, Kansas

Richard’s Thoughts…
While Courtney’s lesson is a harsh one, it is true from start to finish. I went to upstate New York last weekend with some friends for some much needed rest-and-relaxation and on the way back, we got into a conversation about generational differences.

One of the things I said was that the last two generations have the appearance of expecting results. Where that comes from, I’m not quite sure. I actually pitched a business idea about a year ago and was rejected saying, “This reeks of millennialism.” But what the idea really did in my opinion was push the company forward. In the end, both parties parted happy.
I took my idea elsewhere and they continued down the same path.

That’s my point. I’m currently pushing myself to be capable of going after my dreams, rather than waiting for the results to come into existence. It is time to be willing to pay the price, bear the burden and take the fall for what you want. Be willing.

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Newsletter: Reach for the Stars

This is part of my monthly newsletter (which is free, by the way)! Sign up here to get it delivered to your mailbox each month!

It must be said that I love good writing. I don’t think that comes as any surprise, as I love writing myself and I love reading the works of others. More importantly though is that I love to be moved by words. Perhaps that is why I got into the story telling business in the first place.

Some of my English-teacher friends have their favorite authors and novelists, but I don’t. It’s a weird characteristic for a writer to not possess: a loyalty to a specific author. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love Mary Higgins Clark and still love Stephen Ambrose. And I love a good fiction or non-fiction book.

I am however loyal to one writer: Aaron Sorkin. The man just knows how to get me fired up with his well-crafted prose. If you were a fan of the West Wing, I highly suggest checking out his new HBO show, News Room.

You Have to Fight for Your Passion
For Sorkin, he has had to battle his own demons to get to where he is today. I didn’t know it until a few weeks ago, but he had a problem with some pretty hard drugs early in his West Wing days, but has been clean for 11 years.

But passions are like that. We have to fight for them. We have to hold on to them even when the world is doing everything in it’s power to take them away. Otherwise we lose a piece of our collective soul. And you will lose a part of who you are as a person.

The Never-Ending Question
What is your passion? Passions are one of the things I speak about often, especially in my FOCUS workshops that I have become known for.

But what good is a passion if it don’t do something about it?

I know all too well.

You see, the only reason I have the speaking opportunities I have today are because of two very conscious choices I’ve made in the past 12 years. The first was in the year 2000.

My Pop Cultures teacher at the time suggested I join the high school speech team. It sounded like a geeky thing to join, but I also knew I had a unique skill at giving speeches. So I signed up and four months later, I had an Iowa All-State Speech medal to show for it.

Then, nearly seven years later, I wanted to get into professional speaking, but I was waiting for the phone to ring. But it never did. Finally, my friend Nathanael called me out, telling me to go chase the dream and not wait for it.

So I did. And here I am.

You Have to Live
Acting on your passions helps you come alive. It gives you something to shoot for, go after, dream about and fail for.

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”
-Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch

At the end of the day, at the end of a week, a month and your life, it is going to be the things you tried to do that you’ll remember. Sure, I ran a marathon and I crossed the finish line. But i will remember the hours of training and reading and prepping more than the race itself.

Be the person you want to be. Reach for the stars. Be passionate. And never quit.

FOCUS: Keep on the Tracks!

Selected Life Lesson
Never let someone derail you – always follow your passion.
-Patricia B’s Life Lesson from St. Louis, Missouri

Richard’s Thoughts…
Ever have someone belittle your dreams and ambitions? If you think long enough, I am certain someone has done that to you. The biggest one I remember is when my dad said I couldn’t run for president in the year 2020.

Perhaps in the end he will be right, but I still like to believe in possible. Why? Because I have seen it. I have run for office and almost won. I have changed from a tennis player to a marathoner. I have given keynote speeches.

When you have your passion, you are obligated to go after it and to live it. Your passion is the thing that makes you come alive above all else and to do nothing less than chase it does not do you
or your passion justice.

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NYC: Live the Life YOU Want w/ Intro to Live Laugh Play Dream Coaching

This two-hour classroom session, part lecture, part discussion, part reflection, is designed to mimic the first consultation of my life coaching program. Together, we’ll go through what I believe and how that pushes me forward. Then together, we will begin to dive into your life and look into what you want and the pathway there.

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We might talk a bit about your past, but I’m not a therapist. I’m a liver of life and that is my sole focus. I’m not going to tell you what to do (unless you need a good smack on the head). Coaching to me is about finding ways to look forward, while understanding the past, and working together to find the answers – your solutions – and from there, designing a plan for your life. You know yourself best. My role will focus on assisting you to become aware of your thoughts, what you want and how we, together, can get you there. I can’t “fix” you. But together we can start to design the life you want through engaging, life-affirming conversations and asking each other powerful questions that can help you gain clarity in work, life and love (or wherever you desire clarity). My basic belief is that a coach gives you a neutral (and of course, confidential) sounding board and an advocate for you.

Quick Hits

Who is this for? This is for anyone who wants to challenge themselves and live, laugh, play and dream more and have the life they really want.

What is this? This is an introductory session, as a larger part of a longer-term coaching consultation/relationship. There are no commitments after this day, but your Skillshare fee will go towards your next sessions if you sign up.

Why should you sign up? Sign up if you want to do more or re-focus your life. I’ve done it and so can you!

Questions?! Email me at Richard@RichardDedor.com

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The Marathon Let-Down

I understand that I am not the Super Bowl MVP. Wait. I am the Super Bowl MVP. Running the 2012 Rock ‘n Roll San Diego Marathon was my Super Bowl and I said that before I even made the trip. It is likely to be one of the greatest athletic accomplishments I will ever experience.

As I raced my way the last mile, with the finish line in sight, I felt many different emotions.

On one hand, I was exhausted. My ankles hurt. My eyes were heavy. My throat dry.

San Diego MarathonOn the other hand, I was elated. Euphoric almost. I felt tears, but they didn’t come. And I smiled. I smiled the last quarter of a mile, all the way to the finish line. And as I crossed the strip marking my path from zero to 26.2 miles, I pumped my fist. I was a champion.

But now, everything seems so small. I worked so hard and so long to get to that finish line, what can possibly top it?

It took me 11 days to feel this … and it is the similar feeling I had after I lost my election a decade ago. So, what’s a man to do?

Keep dreaming, damnit. That’s my motto. And what’s next? I’m not sure, but I am going to find something to chase, build towards and achieve.

What’s next for you?

FOCUS: Go Do It!

Selected Life Lesson
Do it now. You may never have another chance.
-Rob P’s Life Lesson from Arlington Heights, Illinois

Richard’s Thoughts…
I DID IT! I put the goal out there and then went and did it. It was not easy, but four days ago, I ventured out with the sun in beautiful San Diego to tackle 26.2 miles; a marathon.

I really never thought I would be able to say it, but I, Richard Dedor, am a marathoner. It’s like when someone because a Super Bowl champion, or wins an Olympic gold medal, that title and the honor bestowed because of that achievement goes with them wherever they go.

And the same goes for any dream you chase. Be true to who you are and you can’t go wrong. I am a “dream chaser” and I ran this one down. My body tells me to never do that again, and so I wear my medal with pride, knowing that I did it. What do you need to go do?

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FOCUS: Action!

Selected Life Lesson
You aren’t judged on your words, you are judged on your actions.
-Austin S’ Life Lesson from Basehor, Kansas

Richard’s Thoughts…
It doesn’t matter how it is said, but we have all heard Austin’s lesson before. But only recently have I been needed to be told this again. For me, it came from two people. One, someone I consider a friend and serious mentor, Gary Vaynerchuk. We had a meeting and he basically said you need to do XYZ. Don’t ask questions, just do it.

Sure. Right. Then I had a meeting with someone who is only two years older than me and faced similar life questions at nearly the same time in his life as I am now. That said, we had just met and as we ate our dinners he pushed me, and not gently. Sitting across from me, he basically told me, not unlike Gary, that I needed to do ABC.

Then it hit me. I needed to get going; and now. I can talk as good as anyone, but I need to do. And that’s what I’m doing now. Actions always speak louder than words and I’m excited to start showing what I’m doing, so stay tuned. But here is my question for you: What words do you want to turn into actions today?

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