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11 Things You Learn from Football to Make Life Better

11 Things You Learn from Football to Make Life Better

Football is an unpredictable sport. If you don’t believe me just ask Joe Theismann. Football provides edge-of-your-seat action but if you pay attention it can also teach you some valuable life lessons.

1. You need talent and heart to win anything

Sometimes being good just isn’t good enough. You can be talented at something and have that natural ability but if you don’t care and you have no motivation or heart, you’ll never amount to anything. Just ask any of these teams.

2. It can all end in an instant

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learn from football

    Nothing personifies this more than the aforementioned Joe Theismann. A two-time Pro Bowler with what was amounting to a Hall of Fame career. Then one unlucky day, Lawrence Taylor shattered his leg and ended his career. Thanks to a small stroke of bad luck, Theismann lost his ability to play professional football and it’s a reminder to appreciate what you have because it can be gone in an instant.

    3. If at first you don’t succeed, try again

    Only one team can win the Super Bowl every year and that means everybody else has to deal with defeat. Do they quit? No, they figure out what went wrong, try to fix it, and try again the next year. This is a great lesson to learn because failure is just a temporary problem.

    4. If you try hard enough, you can achieve anything

    There are countless players who have stories that personify this but as a Cleveland Browns fan, nothing hit this lesson home for me more than when Cleveland lost the Browns. After the move to Baltimore, the city of Cleveland wanted their team back so bad that eventually the NFL gave it back to them. That includes the original name and colors. It was a touching reunion that showed us that if you want it bad enough and you try hard enough, then it’ll eventually happen.

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    5. Winning requires teamwork

    From day one in peewee football to the NFL, football players learn one lesson above all else. You win as a team and you lose as a team. In real life, it’s the same way. If you can’t work well with others or you try to do everything alone, you’ll eventually fail. You need to trust your team and everyone needs to do their jobs in order for everyone to be successful.

    6. You can’t win all the time

    There is no football team that has never lost. The New England Patriots won 18 consecutive games in 2011 but lost the Super Bowl. No matter how good you are, you will eventually lose at something and you should be prepared for that. No one wins all the time so it’s best to adjust your expectations accordingly.

    7. You need to have discipline

    Football players must have discipline. When you play football you have to work out every day to maintain your athleticism. That also means you have to watch what you eat and drink and you’re accountable for your mistakes because if you screw up, it’ll be all over the news. In real life it’s much the same. You have to stay disciplined with your exercise and diet or you’ll become unhealthy. When you mess up at home or at work, you’re accountable for it. If you don’t stay disciplined, bad things happen. Just ask Ohio State.

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    8. Learning how to set goals

    Football players have pretty lofty goals. Making millions of dollars a year, winning one of the most coveted events in all of sports in the Super Bowl, and having a good career are among the many goals that professional football players set every year. Thousands of college players have the goal of making it to the NFL. Tens of thousands of high school football players have the goal of making it to play college ball. Pretty much from day one when a kid decides he wants to play football, the goal setting starts and it never really ends. We can learn from that kind of ambition.

    9. Nothing lasts forever

    Brett Favre recently tried to deny this very lesson for years but ultimately even he had to throw in the towel eventually. Great players rise, they fall, they retire and it makes room for the next wave of superstars. Winning streams come to an end and successful dynasties will eventually drop to the bottom of the standings. This teaches us to enjoy the highs while we can because the roller coaster of life will eventually even things out. Watching a player’s career is like an abbreviated version of the circle of life. It’s always sad to see an icon retire or a long-time successful team hit rock bottom but it’s important to remember the good times and realize that this happens to everyone eventually.

    10. Your job depends on the performance of others and the other’s jobs depend on your performance

    This may be an extension of the teamwork lesson but it this lesson applies to everyone. If the players don’t play well, the coaches are to blame. If the coaches can’t motivate their players, the GM has to hire another one. If the GM makes decisions that don’t pan out, the owners replace him. It doesn’t matter who you are on a football team, someone’s job depends on you. In real life it’s the same way. Your boss needs you to work to stay hired. His boss needs him to work hard to stay hired. If a regional manager has a lot of locations and none of them are performing well, the regional manager gets fired. Thus, even the most seemingly insignificant piece may have a measurable impact on someone else’s job. After all, you can have the best QB in the game but if he doesn’t have wide receivers, he’s useless.

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    11. It absolutely matters who wins and who loses

    learn from football

      Winners succeed and losers do not. In football, winners get paid more money. They appear in places like the Hall of Fame. They have Super Bowl rings. Losers do not have those things. At it’s very core, football is a competition and life is no different. Even if it’s not quantifiable, there is a score being kept all the time in the game of life. Telling kids that score doesn’t matter is like telling kids that money doesn’t matter. They can’t pay bills with good intentions and they can’t succeed if they don’t know what losing feels like.

       

      A lot of people don’t like football. They consider it barbaric and they believe that the fan base around it insane. However, there is no denying that when you analyze the emotions and decisions behind the game itself, you can learn some of the most important life lessons from football.

      Featured photo credit: Knowledge Hi via knowledgehi.com

      More by this author

      Joseph Hindy

      A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

      Posture

      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

      Facial Expressions

      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

      2. Relax Your Face

      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

      3. Smile More

      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

      4. Hand Gestures

      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

      5. Enhance Your Handshake

      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

      Final Takeaways

      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

      Reference

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