Whether it is perseverance or discipline, leadership or teamwork, nothing balances your physical fitness with your mental strength like playing a sport does. In fact, some of India’s top entrepreneurs today are sporting superstars who have replicated their sporting success off the field. Enabling a culture of competitive sports among urban Indians is the latest trend in the Indian start up scene too.
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Today, we focus on football, a sport as unpredictable as life itself. For most of us, it provides an edge-of-your-seat adrenaline rush, but if you look closely, there are lessons from the football pitch that are just as relevant in life and work.
Being good at something is not enough. Success needs motivation, heart, and nerves of steel. It takes passionate interest in your game to really know your competition before every match, and a strategic outlook to know your opponent’s every move and never be caught by surprise. There is also no alternative to hard work in order to be fit enough to deliver every time.
Equanimity is yet another trait sportspersons have in plenty. No high is too high, no low too low. Joe Theismann is a perfect example of this – a Pro Bowler almost at the Hall of Fame landmark, he met with an excruciating accident and became a bygone overnight. Football, like most sports, is a lesson in appreciating the ability to put up a fight, no matter what the end result.
Only one team wins the World Cup and only one team brings home the Superbowl. But the sport remains popular year after year, and sportspersons remain celebrities because one loss does not mean it is over. All it does is give you time to reevaluate your strategy, fix the broken parts, and come back and try again.
Whether it is an inter-college tournament or the NFL, football teaches one lesson above all else – it takes a team to win. No goal or personal glory is big enough to come in the way of the identity, success, and failure of a team. It works the same way in life. You win as a team or you lose as one. Eventually, it’s the sense of shared goals and each member’s personal contribution that pave the road to victory.
Football players have lofty goals every season. Making millions of dollars, winning one of the most coveted tournaments, and building memorable careers are just some of them. These goals help football players as much as the rest of us work through the strategy and build the best laid plan. It is hard to find a sense of fulfillment or achievement if you are not sure what you are working towards. Goals give you clarity, in sport as much as in life.
Sporting legends, especially from a game as internationally renowned as football, are celebrities in their own right. Earning a place in the world due to raw talent and earned victories is a blessing. But it comes with its own set of pitfalls. Most celebrities don’t know when it is time to stop because walking away from fame and glory is difficult, and we are all human. However, if age or fitness is coming in the way of delivery on the football pitch, it is unfair to the team. Clearly, the ability to let go and walk away when the time is right, either from the pitch or from professional and personal situations, is one of the most essential lessons from football and other team sports.
A lack of understanding of sportsmanship sometimes turns individuals into unwilling or reactive participants of the rat race. The exhilaration of victory and the ability to manage loss are essential as much in the workplace as they are on the football pitch. All we need is to pick up on the life skills football teaches us even as we go hoarse for our favourite teams, or even better, make a go for that winning goal ourselves!