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12 Things The World Cup Losing Teams Teach You About Success

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12 Things The World Cup Losing Teams Teach You About Success

From the South Pole to outer-space, the 2014 FIFA World Cup has captured the attention of the entire planet. Thirty-two nations battled from a field of 200 to quality for this years spectacle, all eyes converging on Brazil.

The crowds roar, adorning the colors of their beloved team; an overwhelming sense of pride fills the heart of every single person. With the trademark goooaaalll! echoing, players turn into heroes. As the final whistle blows, the field is filled with tears. But it’s one form of tears desperately sought after—the tears of victory.

However, the tears of defeat are just as rich, loss can be the greatest of teachers. The drama and pursuit of success on the field are valuable lessons off the field. Pelé, the Brazilian soccer legend, says it perfectly, “Everything on earth is a game.”

Here are 12 things the World Cup losing teams teach you about success:

1. Costa Rica: Work Smart. And Hard. 

In spectacular fashion, Costa Rica advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in their history. Notching a comeback win over Uruguay, a 1-0 win over Italy, and a 0-0 tie with England—three former World Cup champion teams. Marked to finish last in their group, they were barely knocked out by the Dutch in a penalty shootout.

Against star-studded oppositions, Costa Rica really had to employ strategy. They adopted a 5-4-1 formation, heavy on defence to counter the flamboyant attackers.

Success is not only about working hard, but also working smart. Applying your brains as well as your braun. It’s about assessing your opposition and obstacles and devising a plan to counteract.

2. Colombia: New Kids On The Block

The first World Cup appearance in 16 years for Colombia started off with a bang, Pablo Armero scoring the first goal in just the fifth minute. There was certainly no rust with the majority of the team made up of debutants.

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Colombia made history topping their group, with an impressive win over powerhouse Uruguay. Their most successful World Cup campaign ended in the quarter finals with a narrow 2-1 loss to Brazil.

They say familiarity breeds contempt, for the Colombians, it seems being fresh and green after a 16-year hiatus was key for their success. When stepping up against some of the World Cup giants, it was a respect combined with the blasé attitude of a ‘new kid on the block.’

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by a new endeavor and undermine your abilities. Colombia could have done that after being out of the World Cup for so long. But they leveraged their ‘ignorance’ and simply charged forward.

3. Brazil: Can’t Stop The Music

It’s the fairy tale for every host nation, to be the star of their own party. But despite the horrific end to their campaign—the 7-1 thumping from Germany, followed by a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands, the party must still go on.

With plans for an earth-shaking closing ceremony, it’s not like the Brazilians can just tell everyone to leave.

We’ve all had crappy days like that—just want to clock-off and call it a day. But perhaps the best thing for sanity, is to join the celebration; as bad as your day may be, turn up the music. Have a glass of wine and some chocolate, or some brigadeiros and cachaça!

4. Spain: All That Glitters Ain’t Gold

When it comes to big disappointments of the 2014 World Cup, the defending champions find themselves on that list. Winners of Euro 2008 and 2012, as well as the 2010 World Champions, Spain were big favorites to win. But they were eliminated with a 2-0 loss to Chile, and a  5-1 loss against the Netherlands.

With nearly the same star-studded team that won the Cup in 2010, you realize what appears on paper doesn’t always transfer in reality. Perhaps the Spaniards got a little caught up in all the hype.

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It’s a good reminder not to bank on fancy talk if it’s empty of a decent walk. The punters definitely got shafted on that bet.

5. USA: The Ripple Effect

The USA’s heroic on-field performance against Belgium, losing in extra-time, drew quite an impressive off-field response—a personal phone call from President Obama, “To see the way you guys captured the hearts and the imaginations of the whole country is unbelievable.”

That’s significant because the States have never been a nation interested in soccer. No doubt the last thing they were expecting as they were out there on the field. But that’s the ripple effect of one heroic performance.

Whatever you’re engaged in, success can be set off by a single spark. You may only be one day away from changing the trajectory of your future.

6. Cameroon & Ghana: Drama In The Background

Not to be left out, Cameroon and Ghana also experienced Presidential involvement. But for all the wrong reasons. Both Presidents called for investigations as to why neither team advanced past group stages. Of course, it was the drama off-field that crippled them on-field.

For Cameroon, the trouble began when players refused to board their plane until a dispute over bonuses was resolved. The national football federation said it had to take out a “private loan” to meet player demands, increasing the sum given to each squad member by US $12,000.

What happens in the background will always transfer onstage; people will always trip over loose cables. Before your big day or event, do a second sound check and make sure everything’s in order. You don’t want any post-event investigations.

7. Holland: The Extra Mile

After 120 minutes of scoreless play, it came down to a penalty shoot out against Argentina to advance to the finals. But the Dutch bowed out with a 4-2 defeat—a stellar performance from the Argentinian keeper.

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It was Argentinian keeper Sergio Romero’s extra homework that sent Holland packing. Like a diligent student camped out in the library, he compiled a binder, analysing each of the Netherlands’ attackers shot history and tendencies. Had the Dutch keeper done the same, it may have been a different story.

‘Luck’ always finds its way into the hands of the diligent. To stand apart from the ordinary, one must be willing to extra. It certainly paid off the Argentinians.

8. Russia: Follow The Leader

With such a rich soccer tradition, Russia failed to impress taking an early group-stage elimination. Magnifying the upset, was the notable leadership of Fabio Capello, the highest-earning manager of the World Cup. Many argue that he implemented a strategy severely lacking any serious attack, and the players did what they were told.

Every successful person has a coach or mentor. And the apple rarely falls far from the tree. If you don’t have a mentor, get one. If you have one that isn’t bringing out the best in you, it’s time to end that relationship.

9. England: Past, Present, & Future

Failure to make it out of the Group stage after defeats to Italy and Uruguay saw England taking the early exit for the first time since 1958.

It was the gaping hole within the squad between experienced and inexperienced players. A heavy reliance on past performer Wayne Rooney to balance out that gap was far more than one person could carry.

The Football Association of England agrees that the England Manager, Roy Hodgson, “Has no depth to his squad.” England had been so reliant on veteran stars such as Rooney, they forgot to build the future generation of elites.

It’s easy to isolate a successful experience in life and forget about the aftermath. The cards that you play at this moment may no longer be effective in the future. Make sure you are setting yourself up for victories not only for today, but also for next month.

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10. Croatia: Sometimes You Get Hit With Lemons

The opening match against Brazil has become the talking point with the infamous dive by Brazilian Seleção’s Fred, which sealed the victory over Croatia. Jeers spread like wildfire throughout the stadium as replays showed Fred crashing to the field after minimal contact; the referee bought it hook, line, and sinker, and pointed to the spot.

It’s a reminder that even when we check all the boxes for success, there are things that are simply outside our control. Especially negative decisions others make. Not sure how Croatia are supposed to make lemonade out of that situation. But just try to squeeze whatever positive drops possible from lemons you encounter.

11. Argentina: The Journey & Destination

While it was absolutely heartbreak for the Argentinians to lose in the 105th minute to Germany, they wouldn’t have traded the grand final experience for anything. It’s not only the highest pinnacle and unique setting to apply all their training, but a very clear bulls eye for which every team is aiming.

It’s one thing to have passions and desires, it’s another to create a clear vision and actually get there. Even though  Argentina didn’t take the crown, they valiantly battle through 6 matches to arrive at the final stop. There is no doubt those matches were filled with the richest of experiences.

When it comes to success and chasing after your dream, there needs to be a clear destination. But it’s going to be a rich journey that brings you there. It can’t just be about the journey, nor just about the destination.

12. A Lesson From Every Losing Team: Get Back Up 

Out of the 32 teams that competed at the World Cup, 31 are “losing teams.” None of those teams will decide they they’re over and done with the World Cup—that they’ll never compete again. They’ll pick themselves up, study their mistakes, and work twice as hard to be twice as good over the next 4 years.

Failure is a comma, not a period. The journey to success will be paved with obstacles, setbacks, and frustrations. But the only true loser is the one that doesn’t get back up and keep moving forward.

More by this author

Thai Nguyen

Thai's a Mindfulness-Meditation Coach, a 5-Star Chef and an International Kickboxer.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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