When else in life other than soccer or sport do we engage in a weekly battle where we face opposition that genuinely wants to defeat us? Everything is relative, so whether you are playing in the Champions League final or your over-40’s C division game, you are facing an opposition that will do pretty much anything to defeat you. Yes, you may be friends before and after the game, but during the game, you are enemies and anything goes. Maybe even dirty tactics will appear from the very people that shook your hand just moments before. They may even be out to hurt you. Facing this on a weekly basis gives us the mental strength to handle this in the workplace. We realize that our opposition isn’t doing anything personal; it’s just their job. They are out to hurt you, to take your sales quota, to claim the recognition for the idea you brought to the team, and that’s just from inside your own company!
The competition is just as ruthless when competing against a different company. We have all been there, knowing that we should have gotten that sale, gotten that account and signed the contract, but the other company misled the client and you know it. You know you have a better product, service and price, but somehow, they weaseled their way into getting the deal done. What do you do about it? By the time the client realizes it, it’s too late for them. Do you throw your toys out of the stroller? Do you bad mouth the other company and let the client know just how misled they have been? How many times has a referee changed their mind when you have complained to them about a call? They didn’t listen? Well, just scream and shout louder! You get it, it simply doesn’t work and can actually make things worse. You may end up with the corporate equivalent of a yellow card for dissent. “Better not give these guys the opportunity to pitch again, remember what happened last time they didn’t get the job?” We just have to take it on the chin and remember that moment for the next time we encounter something similar. We keep our head in the game and focus on our next action, next deal and next play. Never forgetting what happened, learning from it and pushing forward. Games cannot be won in moments like that, but they certainly can be lost. The mental lessons we can learn from soccer to give us the strength to perform better in business and our daily lives are everywhere:
Late for the meeting?: Stay calm, if you go into it flustered, you will show that and start off 2-0 down. You know you will leave the house even earlier next time. Didn’t get that promotion you thought you deserved? Work harder, put your head down and prove that you did deserve it. Lost the account that was 25% of your annual bonus? That gives you more time to create new accounts, better accounts and new relationships. Who knows where they will lead?
Even in moments of traffic road rage, soccer gives us the mental strength to be calm in volatile situations. Not only do we come to not fear the mental and physical weekly battle, but we long for it, look forward to it and miss it when it is not there. Soccer prepares us for the daily battles that we face at work, at a reception desk, in the boardroom and at a counter serving coffee. It gives us the strength and reassurance to know that, although we may have lost today’s battle, the next one is right around the corner next week and I know I will be better prepared next time, I know I won’t make the same mistakes next time, I know I won’t lose those small individual battles next time – that all will come together to make the team performance stronger for that game, for that season, for that quarter, for that year. Because if I don’t do those things and lose too many battles in a row, there are plenty of substitutes waiting on the bench chomping at the bit to get on and replace me.