What We Can Learn About Risk Taking From Serena Williams

Even casual tennis fans know the power and success of Serena Williams. The superstar’s career has spanned decades and led to dozens of titles from tournaments around the world, including a staggering 39 Grand Slam titles, earning her the title of the greatest in women’s tennis history. Serena is known for her bold style and for using her ace serve in critical moments. Always calm under pressure, she regularly takes calculated and thoughtful risks.

You might not be a star on the tennis court, but we can all learn about risk-taking from Serena Williams. Every person and organization is bound to face uncertain times, but it is during those times of the unknown that we need to take bold risks. Do your research, know the game, and be thoughtful in your decisions, but don’t be afraid to try something big. It is because Serena has such a strong understanding of tennis that she knows when to try a power serve or hit the ball somewhere unexpected. Those critical moments of the game often determine the winner and loser. Similarly, the critical moments of decision-making for brands can determine who succeeds by finding and retaining customers and who fails by not creating a strong customer experience. Companies that take safe shots won’t stand out and find success, just like Serena Williams wouldn’t have won so many championships by playing it safe.

Serena also does things most other athletes wouldn’t do, such as when she recently won the Australian Open at eight weeks pregnant. Most other athletes wouldn’t take such a big risk. Great companies follow her example to do things that others won’t and setting themselves apart from the competition with bold and unique actions.

Just like Serena Williams practices to make sure the ball lands where she needs it to, organizations too should practice taking risks when it comes to customer experience. There isn’t always a clear return on a customer experience investment, which can make it a difficult sell to investors and executives, but when the ball falls in the right place, it can lead to great success. After all, you’ll never win a championship if you don’t hit hard and do the things the competitors won’t. Serena Williams has disrupted the game of tennis instead of waiting around to be disrupted. Like her, brands that take bold risks can disrupt their industries and set the stage for future change.

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