Portugal recently defeated the host nation, France, to lift the European Championships for the first time in their footballing history. Portugal has a population of approximately 10.3 million people, a number that has decreased in the past year. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from the victory of the Portuguese team, not just from the final game, but throughout the tournament.
Admittedly, Portugal did not start the tournament well, barely scraping through to the round of 16 from the group stages. Moreover, they only won a single match within the regulation 90 minutes of play, with the rest of their victories coming in extra time or through penalties. Their captain, and arguably the best ever player to put on the Portuguese jersey, Cristiano Ronaldo had to be stretchered off in the final after merely 25 minutes on the field due to a knee injury. Despite all of this, they emerged victorious. Here are some of the lessons entrepreneurs can take from them:
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Much like Greece’s win back in 2004, Portugal winning came as a shock to many. While it wasn’t as shocking as the Greek victory or Leicester’s fairytale triumph in the Premier League earlier this year, Portugal were still only 20/1 favourites to win the tournament. Compare that with the eventual runners up France, who were given odds as low as 3/1 before the tournament commenced. Even prior to the final, Portugal were clearly the underdogs both on paper as well as based on their results in the tournament leading up to the final. Also not to be forgotten is the fact that France were playing at home.
Entrepreneurs are very often faced with the dilemma of sacrifice, be it time, money or their jobs. Moreover, entrepreneurs are always the underdogs. No one starts a company knowing that it will be successful. Research from the Harvard Business School showed that only 22 per cent of all entrepreneurs succeed on their first attempt. Clearly, the odds are against you. Do not let that deter you. Believe in yourself and, more importantly, work hard. Ensure that “22 per cent” chance is just a statistic, and not your reality. Portugal, like Leicester, were the underdogs. The odds of Leicester winning the Premier League prior to the start of the tournament were 5000/1. They did it. So can you.
A lot has been said about Ronaldo’s skills being on the wane, but not enough has been said about his leadership qualities. In the quarter-final, against Poland, he motivated his teammate Moutinho to take a penalty when Moutinho wasn’t feeling confident. In the final, despite barely playing a part due to his injury, you could see Ronaldo encouraging the players from the sidelines and giving speeches during the breaks. The man who scored the winning goal, Eder, said
Cristiano told me I would be scoring the winning goal. He and all my teammates, he gave me strength and positive energy.
As an entrepreneur, not every day will be a good one. Very often you will have a bad day, or not be able to work as well or as much as you’d hoped. Especially on days like these, it is vital that you are there for your team and your colleagues. You need to motivate them to step up when their captain is out.
There is no doubt that Portugal did a lot of things right during the tournament. However, there is also no denying that they got lucky. Before the tournament began, Portugal were clear favourites to win their group. It consisted of Hungary, Iceland, Austria and themselves. They finished third. They only made it to the Round of 16 because they were one of the four best third-placed sides. Their only victory in regulation time was against Wales in the semifinals, with two of their victories coming in extra time, and one through a penalty shootout. While it does need skill and endurance to emerge victorious in extra-time or through penalties, you very often need to rely on a little luck as well.
As an entrepreneur, a lot of your success will come from being in the right place at the right time. That is not to say that you do not need to work hard. However, whenever you find an opportunity to be lucky, take it. If you are lucky, enjoy it and hope it continues. Everyone needs a little bit of luck apart from all the sweat and tears to be successful.
Both of those are definitely clichés. But there’s a reason why so many people say that all clichés are true. That’s how they became clichés. The Portuguese team exemplified this. They always gave it their all, all the way to the last minute. Pepe, their centre back, was suffering from a thigh muscle injury and was not able to play in the semi-final. Most doubted that he would be fit for the final. He ended up playing all 120 minutes, and then was left vomiting on the field because of how much effort and hard work he put in. From 12 years ago, there is a picture of a 19-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo crying when he lost the 2004 Euro Final. Today, there is a picture of a 31-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo crying when he won the 2016 Euro Final. Work hard and results are likely to follow.
As an entrepreneur, there are many days when you will feel like giving up, or taking it a little easy because you’re tired or not feeling well. Whatever the circumstances, always give it your best. That is the only way to get sure shot results. It may not happen immediately, but if you keep going, chances are that it will happen. The good thing is that you probably will not have to wait 12 years like Ronaldo had to. Failure teaches you a lot, and you must use it to rectify your mistakes and not as an excuse to give up.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)