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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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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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