Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Ian Rubel.

Recently, I have spent quite a bit of time with Bob Ryland, the first black professional tennis player. In our conversations, we talk about playing and teaching tennis, the experiences he’s gone through, and life.

Mr. Ryland has seen it all. He lived through segregation before Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. He has coached some of the best players in the world. Earlier this week, Bob and I were sitting at his kitchen table in his apartment overlooking the New York City skyline when he told me the secret.

“You gotta work hard. If you want to become as good as the Williams sisters, you have to train like the Williams sisters. They are not more talented than everyone else, they just work harder. And don’t give up.”

So you have to put in the work. There is no substitute. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. There’s plenty of talented people out there, but it’s the ones that work hard and keep going that succeed.

“Arthur Ashe wasn’t a great player. I wasn’t a great player. Ivan Lendl wasn’t a great player. We just worked hard,” said Mr. Ryland.

Pete Sampras said the accomplishment he is most proud of is finishing number one in the world, six years in a row. He said, “To me, greatness lies in going out there day after day and getting the job done.”

So work hard at practice, at work, at school, but remember something else that Bob Ryland said…

“Have fun!”

Thanks for reading.