Stan Smith sets dream goals to achieve greatness

You get this sense of calmness when you listen to Stan Smith. When he played, he was so composed and was so in control of his emotions. He was a practical player. The very best in the world. 

He told me he had four goals as a kid – such big goals that he was embarrassed to even tell his parents. 

“As a kid, I had four goals. One was to make the U.S. Davis Cup team and represent the country. Two was to become the number one player in the United States. Three was to win Wimbledon and four was to become the No. 1 player in the world … When I was able to do that, it was a special moment. But the whole process of trying to get there is the thing that I encourage … Those were what I called ‘dream goals’ … You have to go through the process of trying to become better and doing the very best you can.” –Stan Smith

In today’s world, I think a lot of people would call a ‘dream goal’ an aspiration. It’s not so much something you can reach out and grab, but it’s something that drives you every day. Stan set four of those for himself at such a young age and he achieved every single one (and then some). 

“You can throw some words in there [about what makes a champion] like passion, commitment, perseverance, the will to win. You have to really want it and you have to work at it. But you also have to enjoy the process. It’s a long process. You have to be able to be persistent and be able to handle those down times. How do you bounce back from a tough loss? Talent is obviously a factor, but it’s a bit overrated. You have to be able to handle the pressure … It’s gut-wrenching, but you have to be able to enjoy that pressure.” –Stan Smith

Stan set a lot of bars for us to aspire to just that in the way he’s carried himself all these years. His story of success, rooted in mental toughness, is something we can all learn from. 

“In any sport, the very best are the strongest mentally … The way you carry yourself on the court and the way you react to things can make a major impact on your opponent. You can play poorly and win or you can play well and lose. I think that the way you interact with people and the way you carry yourself – even off the court – can make a major impact on the affect you have on your opponent. Whether it’s calculated or it’s just a naturally exuding confidence … that’s something you can practice and work on but it’s something you need to develop in your life in general.” –Stan Smith

Listen to our full conversation on Extraordinary Happens. 

Lauren Grancio