+Scott Watson

Friday, 15 May 2009

A Quick Lesson in Developing Trust

In 2005, the Italia Masters Tennis Championship brought together Fernando Verdasco of Spain and Andy Roddick of the USA. The battle had reached match point in favour of Roddick and Verdasco was to serve. Verdasco did serve, it was judged as a fault. He served for a second time - and once again, the umpire called Verdasco's serve as a fault. Match Roddick!

Well, it didn't quite work out that way. Roddick had just been awarded the match and by default, the cheers of the crowd. As Verdasco started the traditional walk to the net to shake hands with his opponent, Roddick remained still. Why would the victor remain still? Was he injured, shocked or was something else happening? It was indeed something very special and deeply human happening. Roddick was about to challenge the umpire's decision. A decision that was not only in his own favour, but one which had awarded him the match and safe passage to the next round.

Roddick politely and assertively stated his view that the ball was actually 'in' and not 'out'. He stated that the proof of his own call was that a slight indentation had formed on the clay court where Verdasco's second serve had impacted. As the ball had landed on the line and not outside the line, the match umpire allowed Roddick to overrule him.

As history shows, Verdasco went on to win the match and progress to the next round. But while Roddick may have lost the match, he won in so many other ways. He demonstrated strength of character, deeply held personal values relating to trust, honour and integrity, and if you were umpiring his next match and Roddick challenged your decision, might you just be a little more open to listening and understanding his viewpoint than you would of other sports men and women who moan, groan, complain and downright cheat to get their own way?

As my wonderful mother used to say to me 'Scott, always be honest. It's really easy to remember.'

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