What do Steve Jobs and Novak Djokovic Have in Common?

What do Steve Jobs and Novak Djokovic Have in Common?

Steve JobsThe last month has witnessed the loss of an icon in the computing industry. Today everyone is directly affected by Steve Jobs in one way or another.

Many people across the world have used iTunes at some point and many of us have ipods, ipads and/or iphones.

But there is an interesting lesson for those of us who play tennis here.

What is less well known, is that Steve Jobs had very few computer programming or assembly skills. You could call this a weakness but his strength was an incredible strength.

In his autobiography, he is described as having magical thinking. He would actually think of things that no one else would.

Then he would go about finding a way to get it done.

He was so delusional that when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer he tried to cure himself naturally. After 9 months he finally gave in and had surgery but it may have been too late to save him.

The mind that was able to imagine so many incredible things and get them done thought it could imagine health and it would happen. That is how strong he felt the power of the mind could take him.

Novak Djokovic also suffers from magical thinking. In 2010, after having lost to Federer 3 times in a row at the US Open, he unleashes on a couple of shots. He holds serve and wins the match.

In 2011, he does the same thing at 40-15 while Federer is serving. Then he raises his hands and asks the crowd for some recognition.

He breaks Federer’s serve and then goes on to win the match and the final two days later.

In his post on, Tomaz talks about how to gain 100% confidence in yourself during a match. He advocates being delusional.

That is you imagine a positive outcome without any proof. He also says that this is why there are very few great champions. It is because most of us are not willing to LIE to ourselves.

So there you have it. The way to achieve something great is to imagine it before it happens.

Most of us get caught up thinking the other way around. We work hard. Something great happens. Then we are thankful.

Steve Jobs thought great thoughts and then went out and made them reality. They were not all successes. The Apple III, Lisa which would cost $20K today, the Cube… In fact, his biggest failure was being fired from Apple in the first place.

But rather than see it as a loss he saw it as an opportunity to try a few things out without the pressure. He founded NEXT, ended up back at Apple and the rest is history.

He had two things: an incredible ability to see opportunities and a love for what he did.

If we look at all great tennis champions we can see many of these same mental qualities. McEnroe felt even as a teenager that the best teams in doubles could not beat him and his partner.

He loves the game so much that he still plays and does announcing at the major tournaments.

Federer’s love for the game is so great that he continues to play on at an age when many would have given up already.

Nadal is a “lunatic”. He played Federer like just another player as a teenager (he won the first match they played when Nadal was ranked around #35 and Federer was #1!) .

He was delusional to think he could always “believe in the victory” against one of the best grass court players of all time after having loss twice in a row.

And now we have Djokovic. The one who dresses up as Maria Sharapova and sings on youtube or dances on American TV. He is kind of crazy, in a good way.

Novak Djokovic

This delusional thinking has taken him a long way. Djokovic has to be praised for thinking he could become the best even when the world did not.

And even this year he was able to face a loss right in the face and say not so fast. Novak Djokovic would make Steve Jobs proud because he dares to Think Different.

Related posts:

Novak Djokovic – The Best Player In The World This Week
Novak Djokovic And His Domination Of Federer And Nadal
Why Did Djokovic Stop Fighting?
3 Reasons Why Djokovic Beat Federer In The Dubai 2011 ATP Final
What Do Azarenka, Del Potro, Djokovic and Murray Have In Common?

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 at 12:21 pm and is filed under Arturo’s Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “What do Steve Jobs and Novak Djokovic Have in Common?”
mk Says:
November 2nd, 2011 at 6:56 am
Quite an interesting comparison…

I completely agree with the notion that the successful geniuses in different ‘categories’ have lots of common ‘winning’ characteristics. In my opinion the most important one, maybe even more than the ability to visualize the impossible in advance, is that they believe/trust in themselves unconditionally (or delusionally in your words) – or at least have somebody in their lives (like parents, teachers, coaches, friends) to believe in them in the crucial moments (like Jobs had his foster parents or Nole has his team). Jobs summarized this self-confidence, trust in himself, in his famous Stanford commencement speech:

“So I decided to drop out [of college] and trust that it would all work out OK… So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

With such a firm self-confidence ‘all’ it takes is to grow one’s passion for what they’re doing and make/wait for the opportunities and make the best out of them. (Actually, reading my stuff above again – I am not sure anymore, maybe the ability to visualize in advance is actually the same as self-confidence 🙂 …)

Also, in my opinion they know how to focus on things they master and ‘let’ themselves be ‘helped’ in the areas where they don’t excel that much. (You mention this with Jobs…)

I would add though, that even if you’re blessed with magical thinking and 100% self-confidence you still need to work ‘hard’ to achieve a certain level (e.g., technical in tennis, playing an instrument or writing) at which you can start ‘playing’, ‘relaxing’, ‘improvising’, breaking the rules… Both, Jobs and Nole were/are workaholics, right…


Arturo Hernandez Reply:
November 3rd, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for the comments!

I like your use of the word trust. It is so important for achievement and yet so elusive. Jobs actually uses the word love. He just loved what he did so it was not that hard to keep doing it. But I agree none of this comes for free. Both Jobs and Nole spent countless hours honing their skills and both knew/know how to ask for help when they need it. I am with you on the self-confidence thing. How much of confidence is simply the ability to see things and then make them happen? I am not sure either. But it is an interesting question…


sandy Says:
November 27th, 2011 at 7:40 pm
I like this. What you call “delusional” to me is just doing with no regard for the outcome. It’s delusional when you think you will know the outcome of anything you do; because there are so many factors beyond our control. But we can control is each thing we conciously set our mind to do. Deepak chopra speaks of “forgetting the outcome” and letting the universe take care of the events. Do what you can in the “now”. This is something I’m realizing more and more. Just “act”, apply your all and then re-assess. In life you will have plenty of time and opportunities to change and go in other directions. But first, you have to get started. That is the key. In Zen there is something called the beginners mind. The beginner prefers to be ignorant and await for that which is to come. The “expert” thinks they know everything and that makes them, as you say, delusional.
looking up delusion…”A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence”…
The false belief is that we control everything including the outcome in spite of seeing that is not the case. That is delusional to me.
Thank you for this thought provoking post.


Arturo Hernandez Says:
November 30th, 2011 at 1:27 pm
Interesting point! It is funny that people are willing to hold all kinds of beliefs for which there is no proof. These beliefs are so strong that they are unable to simply focus on the moment. The problem is that our brains are literally built along contradictory lines. Our ability to foresee things is what sets us apart from other animals. The problem is that we extend this ability way too far. So then we forget to focus on the moment and sustain this focus on one or two things. I think about how a feline tracks its prey. I often think about letting go of the outcome. I learned this from George Leonard who wrote a book called Mastery. He has the same idea. The tricky part is that by letting go of the outcome one can actually perform better. So, yes, maybe thinking we can control the outcome is the true delusion. It sounds like you are arguing for a process oriented approach. What pro players seem to do is fight to simply focus on the process. Those who can do it best end up winning. They understand that their minds can trick them all the time. And they work hard to simply ignore what their minds tell them.

I like the idea that trying to control everything can be seen as a form of delusion.


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