Professional Football is big business even as it continues to captivate billions of followers and supporters around the globe. It’s perhaps the greatest unifying force on planet earth. Soccer is a game you cannot ignore. I know a family which has members supporting different clubs. You need to be present when their clubs are competing; filial affiliations normally proceed on temporary suspension in such circumstances. It’s that serious!
Do you know that soccer mirrors the way we live?
Life is a combination of daily choices together with their consequences. Living it like an uncontrollable series of unrelated events is a frequent source of misery. If you love watching professional football as I do, you will understand the addiction that comes with it.
The last 2 weeks have been particularly busy in Europe. Mixed fortunes keep showing up for virtually all the clubs in various domestic and continental competitions. The 5-1 defeat of my darling Arsenal Football team the other day at Liverpool’s Anfield was particularly painful to me because of the electrifying nature of the first 20 minutes. Thankfully, useful lessons were learnt and the 2-1 reversal a week later was quite soothing.
Now this article is not really about the weekly pleasures and pains arising from the matches. It’s about how the game mirrors the way we live and what I’ve come to learn from it, on and off the pitch, which I’d love to share with you.
Here are 13 practical Success Principles I’ve come to distill from this beautiful game:
1. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE REFEREES AND JUDGES
In small and big ways, at work or at play, there are always Referees. In soccer, I know of at least three – God, the ever present, [whose judgment is unpredictable, irreversible and often spectacular; as we saw last season when Drogba scored the unexpected winning goal before he left Chelsea]. Then there is the Center Referee and the League Administrator who can overrule the center Referee whenever disputes arise and are proven. Research shows that over 90% of human beings believe in one Supreme Being or the other. The mystery surrounding the origin of the universe and the unfailing order of the controlling forces are sufficiently proof-positive. It pays to factor God into life’s equation. Even in business or at work, there always will be other Referees in form of a Boss or a Government or a Parent or a Teacher. The recognition of this paramount rule invokes Faith, Humility, Discipline and Order. It really doesn’t matter whether you believe the Referee is fair or not. Doing what you believe to be the best you can, within the boundaries of the rules of the game is sufficient. Good followership is a prelude to good Leadership. Respect for Rules is critical. Someday, you’d become a Referee and you wouldn’t want your past to hunt you would you?
2. DEFINE YOUR FIELD OF PLAY
The universe may be your turf if you are a global player. It can also be a Country, a State, a Locality, a Pitch or even your Home. It pays to know your turf, its rules, the forces you are contending with, the prevailing circumstances and your strengths. In soccer, results are predicted for Home games differently from Away games. Your results can be enhanced by your home support and you will do well to take advantage of it. In addition, you want to make your home comfortable and attractive. The more control you have of your turf, the better your chances of winning. This is particularly relevant in business – knowing who you are serving; your target audience. How familiar are you with the variables that are most likely to affect the outcome of your efforts? How close are you to this audience such as to guarantee continuous patronage and even referrals? Stop attempting to want to be something to everyone; it doesn’t work.
3. PLAY BY THE RULES – EVERY GAME HAS ITS RULES
It’s dangerous to go into an activity without a proper understanding of the rules of engagement. From something as basic as a relationship between two friends or partners all the way to inter-governmental affairs, the rules must be clearly understood and respected. Whether the Referee is human or a spirit BEING, there are consequences for breaking the rules. Accepting the consequences of your mistakes and taking away the lessons are themselves essential parts of the journey to success. This does not however detract from appealing obvious injustices. Otherwise, resistance is futile when you are convinced you are guilty. Forgiveness is easier when admission of guilt is quickly established.
4. A COACH IS INVALUABLE FOR TOP PERFORMANCE
At the professional level, soccer profits immensely from the wisdom and knowledge of Coaches. For you to be on top of your game, you will always need the services of a Mentor or a Coach with proven track records. Some obvious benefits of hiring a Coach in the game of life are: Someone to hold you Accountable, shortening the Learning Curve, a viable source of Encouragement, Someone to Hold Your Vision, providing Support, a source of Leverage and also instilling Discipline. An hour spent with an Expert in your desired field is worth more than 100 hours of reading books alone. It will cost you time, efforts and money but the rewards will justify your investment.
5. THE ROLE OF CONSISTENT VISION, PLANS, VISUALISATION AND PRACTICE
I’ve been privileged to observe one of the top European teams prepare for a crucial match where players and coaches study the videos of the opposing team critically, envision what they want out of the game, visualize the tactics to employ and not forgetting the actual practice sessions. It is the same with the game of life. That’s why soccer commands such huge followership and big bucks [for the club owners, the coaches, the players and other employees]. Mediocrity is severely punished in football and quality is heavily rewarded. In the same way, you must strive to raise your game to keep growing your incomes and your expertise; treating every assignment like it’s the biggest thing and be prepared to go the extra mile – ‘there’s usually no traffic on the extra mile’. There’s a recent report about Wayne Rooney’s recent signing, entitling him to earn about $450,000 each week. $450,000 a week; well….that’s mouth-watering! Now who says you can’t earn even more? Get to learn how to negotiate what’s best for you under a win-win dispensation. When you do more than it’s expected, you eventually get rewarded beyond your expectation.
6. OF PASSION & SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
The shortest route to abundance and fulfilment is doing what you love. Wayne Rooney is obviously not struggling to be a star in the game of soccer; he discovered and harnessed his natural talent. He most likely would be a lousy medical doctor if he was forced to be one. Everyone is gifted with talents. Monetize one of them and you’d be become a solution provider to a multitude waiting for your gifts to bear fruit. Whether you are doing your own thing or working for another, be the best you can be. Make learning a life-long objective by investing at least 3% of your income on Personal Development and it would be difficult to ignore you. Listen to motivational and professional talks audio while in traffic; read a book a week, diversify your knowledge base and mastermind with others. Some of these football clubs are permanently on top just because they are constantly improving on their skills and tactics, individually and as a team. Be the one to beat in every sphere you find yourself and your wealth and influence will be assured.
That’s it for the first 6 of the 13 Principles soccer has to teach. Look out for the concluding part on Friday this week. If you wish to have a deeper understanding of these concepts, with skills, tools and strategies, visit www.ppld.apoti.net to see what we are doing to empower people to live purposefully and in abundance. And of course you are free to forward this article to others who you feel will benefit from the content.
Remember; ‘you don’t grow old by surprise’!
As usual, I’m standing for all that’s empowering in your life and business
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