Scottish tennis star Andy Murray has had more than a few highs and lows in his tennis career to date – not unlike your average mining professional.
With the industry very much in cost-cutting mode at present, many excellent mining engineers, geologists and metallurgists are being laid off.
All should take heart from Murray’s spectacular turnaround of the last 12 months – and aim to reignite their own careers over the next year.
There is never any point in being down in the dumps about setbacks. The future always holds opportunity – and is bright for those who choose to take control of their own destiny.
Let’s look back at where Murray’s career was at the end of the Wimbledon Championships in June 2012 – and where it lies now. The difference is inspirational.
So think where you might be in 12 months time.
You won’t win Wimbledon – and turnarounds in mining can take longer than the two weeks it takes to play out a major tennis championship – but the opportunity is nevertheless clear.
Murray looked destined to be the “nearly man” of international tennis. His early career was bright, reaching the world’s top 10 tennis rankings in 2007. Hopes were high.
In 2008 he made the US Open final but was blown away by a certain Roger Federer in straight sets. Murray won only nine games.
In 2010 it was the Australian Open final against Federer again and a straight sets defeat again – although this time Murray took Federer to a tie-break in the third set.
Tears were shed: “If only I could play as well as Roger.”
Murray was once again back in the Australian Open final in 2011, this time against Novac Djokovic. Murray lost in straight sets, winning just nine games again.
Public expectation, particularly in the UK, was getting ahead of on-court performance. Murray’s mental toughness was being questioned.
There appeared a gulf in class at the highest level in men’s tennis, with Murray on the wrong side of the equation.
2012 and Wimbledon arrived. Murray made the final once again and lost once again – to Federer. This time, however, he picked up a set, losing in four: the gulf in class was closing.
The 2012 Summer Olympics arrived soon after in London, so it was back to Wimbledon again and to a final confrontation with Federer.
This time it was Federer who was blown away – winning only seven games in a straight sets victory to Murray.
Murray had finally arrived at the highest level of all but had yet to win that elusive first tennis Grand Slam.
The choice of Ivan Lendl as Murray’s new coach was inspired at this time. Lendl had also lost his first four Grand Slam finals before going on to later win eight such titles, including two Australian Opens.
Murray fronted up to the 2012 US Open in the same boat as Lendl had been – four Grand Slam finals and four losses – but buoyed by his recent Olympics success.
Djokovic stood in the way in the US Open final. This time it was Murray who prevailed – in five classic sets. The Grand Slam losing streak was over.
Ups and downs continued.
In the 2013 Australian Open Murray lost the final once again, to Djokovoic in four sets – and then sat out the French Open entirely with an injury.
The rest, as they say, is history: Murray won the 2013 Wimbledon final (beating Djokovic in straight sets) to become the first UK winner of the Wimbledon crown since Fred Perry, who had won 77 years previously.
The lessons here for mining sector professionals are clear. They are to keep at it – meaning continued hard work, supported by coaching and mentoring.
In time success will come.
Indeed, it is very much the hard losses – and those stories abound in the mining sector at present – that confer the experiences necessary to achieve the future wins.
To slightly misquote the well-known song, “You’ll get knocked down but you’ll get up again”
Right now a “head down, rear-end up” strategy is the right approach – both at the individual and at the company level.
The good news is that there is plenty out there still to play for.
Allan Trench is a Professor of Mineral Economics at Curtin Graduate School of Business and Professor (Value & Risk) at the Centre for Exploration Targeting, University of Western Australia, a non-executive director of several resource sector companies and the Perth representative for CRU Strategies, a division of independent metals and mining advisory CRU Group (firstname.lastname@example.org).