I know I am not going to become more popular by admitting this, but here it goes… I am not a football person. I am a basketball person. But I watched the games, enjoyed the victories and nice moments, read articles about the game. I discovered one, which made me think. We all can and should learn from football.
Here are the lessons:
1: How to strike a ball from outside the box. No, you don’t need to strike anything. That is not that lesson. It is about performing better from less comfortable situation. Sometimes it can be decisions, made with less certainty. On other occasions – influencing a decision maker over few intermediaries, simply because the person is too far away (either geographically or on hierarchical ladders). Rarely do we get to act from the sweetest comfort zone spot.
2: How to hit a volley. And now – in English and in a simple way: a volley means air-borne strike for goal. Slightly more difficult, more visual way to score a goal. Simply said, we all become better, more skilled. Even if you are not considered a star of your profession (that is, if others do not perceive you to be one – I am pretty sure we are all our own stars. At least it should be this way), you can still learn and use more sophisticated tools. Especially “air-borne” KPIs, reports, goals. Right?
3: How to strike a free kick. It also proved again, that you cannot take things for granted. World’s best miss penalties. But everything evolves and something, that was once more an exception, now becomes rule. And a standard to all of us. Long time ago (pre-google era), information availability was listed as a barrier of switching between suppliers. Now, I would say, distribution or goods availability in B2B might still not be that flexible – but it is changing. Placing POs on the go, over the app is the new buzzword. Working with poorer data and getting better results. More and more often. We started setting higher goals. And we hit them more and more frequently. What’s next?
4: How to make a goal-line clearance. Sometimes it takes forever. Sometimes 22 people run around for 90 minutes with no real deliverables (goals). But sometimes you see one, who picks up the ball and turns into almost magical dancer – performer – warrior. With a ball between legs. And the person runs, twists, jumps, turns in a way only he understands in a high speed and finishes with an amazing kick and a goal. Differentiation. Between broad, structural vision and a tunnel vision. Both are good and needed – at the right moment. Seeing a goal and a way to get there. Not stopping along the way. Doing your best to really get there.
5: How to keep goal. Did nobody tell you at school that life is usually not only smiley-face stickers? Well, at least you can learn this from football. Yes, you will have attacks aimed at you. Yes, you have to be ready and prepared to deal with them. Sometimes, it is the winning point. You WILL have resistance. You will have people trying to use you. Yes, your suppliers will use every opportunity to increase their profit and your competitors will try to snitch your ideas. And you don’t get a sticker for it. Your preparation to deal with it is what matters the most.
6: Age is just a number. Too young? Too old? Too new? Too old-fashioned? Who is the one to judge? Too inexperienced? Overqualified? We all heard most of these. Who and what did you choose to believe? Do not let others make your decisions. I know a girl who, from being sandwich bar operative dared to try and now is highway planning engineer. No, she did not need 10 years. She had all it takes and needed a little bit of trust. And four months to make her dreams come true.
7: David can beat Goliath. These days it is all about the speed in business, not about size. Your colleague might have few accreditations next to his name, and it took years to get them. These days, all you need is Google and a day to find and study latest trends, techniques, download free templates and tools. So you have a small team, even smaller budget but a big task? Relative. As long as you have brain and a will to deal with the task, there are always ways.
8: Don’t be a sore loser. That is another lesson we do not get at school. Well, we get to know that we don’t always get what we want. What we missed to learn is probability. It’s always 50:50. Every time you are on to something, you might win with the same frequency as you might lose. In fact, it is highly likely, that you will lose more matches than you will win. Again – your reaction to it is what matters. Learn and move on? Sit and cry? Moan and blame others?
9: It pays to be positive. Sometimes – quite literally. Like the guy who bet Leicester to win last football season in UK. With odds 5000:1. The Portuguese coach also believed. Even before the tournament. And, surely, throughout it. Not to mention all of the other benefits of being positive.
10: Keep going right to the end. If you are reading this, you have clearly learnt this lesson before. I would argue slightly: it is good to stick to the end, if you know when and where the end is. But otherwise… Sometimes it takes a second to score. If you create opportunities (if you really keep on creating them till the end), one of them can turn into a victory. If you really keep going till the end.
Those were the lessons I am taking with me from football. What have you learned from it?