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12 Things The World Cup Losing Teams Teach You About Success

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.

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Thai Nguyen

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

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

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