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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 January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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