Lessons from the World Cup

You’d have to be half dead not to have been inspired by the recent Women’s World Cup win by the U.S. team. I mean, they just went for it! Three goals in the first 16 minutes –  soccer usually has scores like 1-0, so that’s nuts!!!

There are a few lessons we can extrapolate from this exciting match into our business as well as our daily lives.

Don’t Make assumptions

They had lost to the same team four years before, so they were not top ranked going in. Germany was the team to beat – so they were the one the pundits focused on.

All throughout the tournament, the U.S. was criticized for its lackluster playing. The coach, Jill Elllis was criticized for her player placement, with many questioning her ability. (A shout out here, as she is an alum of BOTH my high school, Robinson Secondary in Fairfax, Virginia, AND my master’s degree alma mater, William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.)

But wow, the U.S. turned it on! No one saw it coming. They had pumped themselves up to believe that without a doubt, they would beat Japan and win the tournament. So no matter what all the armchair referees say, don’t listen and prove the doubters wrong.

Don’t get complacent

The team went out like gangbusters! Or more specifically, Carli Lloyd did with her “hat trick” of three goals in a game in rapid succession. That left me to wonder, where do you go from there? When you come out of the gate roaring like that, can you really sustain that level of intensity?

It’s easy to do the same thing in your own life. You put all your energy into your one product or project. People really like it and wow it really does well for you. That becomes your signature thing. Until people get tired of your signature thing because, well, you just coasted on it.

The U.S. came back in the second half and scored a crazy fifth goal, so they didn’t lose their drive despite the initial success. We all have to keep motivated and keep moving to improve. The only alternative is stagnation and eventual obsolescence.

Never underestimate your competition

It looked to anyone after the first three goals in the game that Japan just didn’t show up to play that day. That kind of scoring just does not happen in soccer – or at least very rarely. So it would have been very easy to write the other team off.

But Japan managed to plug away and score, despite what must have felt like humiliation to them. So as easy as it probably was for the U.S. to think they had it in the bag, they kept up their intensity and Japan started to respond.

Just because you had initial success with something doesn’t mean you can let down your guard. If you let up on your vigilance, someone will catch you.

Keep your eye on the ball

Sorry for the soccer pun, but for the World Cup team, their main goal IS the goal! Really, the game can be boiled down to that one thing. And boy did the U.S. team go after that!

Do you lose sight of what you’re really trying to do in your business or in your life? It’s easy to do. Customers – or family – make demands on you. It’s so easy to get lost in the details and in the day-to-day “putting out fires” mentality.

We all need to step back and remember what it is that got us into business in the first place. And what values we have that we want to project into both our business and our life.

 Take a crazy chance

The craziest play of the game was surely that goal from half way down the field. Wow, that was amazing – and kind of crazy! But Lloyd saw an opening and an opportunity and WENT for it!

A lot of us overthink things, so when an opportunity presents itself, we brush it off. We don’t have the resources for it, we say. Or we have no idea how to do it, we rationalize. I’ve heard other entrepreneurs say that the best things in their careers were things they didn’t know how to do at the beginning. But the opportunity was too amazing to pass up, so they learned as they went along.

So know what your goals are, keep pushing and take those crazy chances when they present themselves!


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Finley the Flute

July 2015
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