After nearly a month of epic play, the 2014 World Cup is over. Germany is basking in the glow of victory. Brazil’s football soul has been crushed. And the United States’ love of the beautiful game is ascending. Countless stories have emerged from Earth’s most popular event and here are John and my 10 professional lessons from the World Cup of Football (or soccer, whatever):
1. Play Your Game (not someone else’s)
Germany, Costa Rica, the USA, all played their game – the Dutch got in trouble when they tried to match Argentina’s pressing defensive tactics because it wasn’t reflective of the flamboyant, flying-Dutchman-style that got them to the semi-final.
Stay true to your values, style and strengths. Be yourself and good things will happen.
2. Keep Your Cards Close to Your Chest
Germany didn’t reveal its perfect lineup until the semi-final, at which point they eviscerated the host nation. The Dutch, in a brilliant move, swapped keepers for their penalty shoot-out in the quarter final, a strategic gambit that many pundits have praised as tactical genius.
From a career development perspective, it’s important to keep your biggest ideas and goals to a trusted group of people, like mentors, partners and your manager. Planning a move? Maybe don’t tell everyone at the office water cooler. Thinking about positioning yourself to get that next project? Be careful (and strategic) about who you share your aspirations with. Patience and preparedness are gold in one’s professional progress.
3. Follow the Golden Rule
Treat others as you want to be treated. If you goon-it-up like Brazil did with James Rodriguez don’t be surprised if your star player gets injured because of the match’s escalated physicality.
If you start talking negatively about co-workers, don’t be surprised if loyalty, kindness and support are elusive in your workplace and/or circle of friends. Indeed, one of the best career tips we can offer is to stay positive and help those around you.
4. Don’t Bite People
Seriously, biting people is a career limiting move. Just ask Luis Suarez.
Kurt and John’s awesome career tip: don’t bite people.
5. Never Give Up
Brazil gave up. They expected great things and were pressured by 200 million fans to achieve these lofty goals. Imagine the stress. And when their star went down with an injury the team imploded. Opposite and resilient behaviour was on full display with the scrappy American squad. Even with a broken nose, Clint Dempsey continued to dog the ball like a hound.
Resilience is essential for building healthy communities at work and in life. You will inevitably be criticized, fail, not get hired, possibly get fired, and suffer heartbreak. Pushing through these things means never giving up.
6. Win as a Team
Germany won because they play as a team. Argentina had the best player in the world (Lionel Messi), but couldn’t surround him with organized and dynamic talent. Selflessly, the Germans moved in unified attack and shot when the moment called for it.
If you want to get something done quickly, do it yourself. If you want to build something that is amazing and sustainable, work as a team. Connectivity and collaboration are required for thriving in the Networked Age.
7. Be a Gracious Host
Brazil threw an amazing party. And, as much as they hated it, gave away their power to Germany, the first European team to win in South America. Despite their defeat (and possibly because of a staggering security presence!), the people didn’t riot. By all accounts the World Cup hosts excelled at celebrating.
Take a cue from the home of carnival the next time you host a dinner party or participate in an office event. Even amidst competition and/or rivalry, if you through an awesome party even your most bitter rivals will respect your gifts for celebration. Besides, everyone, even Germans, deserve to have a really good time.
8. Adapt Amidst Terrible Management
FIFA is the corrupt and horrible organization that, following millions of dollars in bribes, granted the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, where slave labour will construct air conditioned stadium so players won’t die in the 50-degree heat! Also, they lifted a decade-long ban of alcohol at football matches in Brazil, which corrupted the culture of Brazil fan engagement. This said, the World Cup happened and it was probably the best sporting event in the 21st-century.
The next time you feel stifled and put down at work, remember that you control how you react and evolve within corrupt and/or hapless management. Create greatness within whatever space you can, just like James Rodriguez did! And, hey, at least your boss isn’t Sepp Blatter!
9. Have Fun with It!
Did you see the Colombian team’s goal celebration dances? Allegedly inspired by South American Pop Star, Shakira, they were joyous embodiments of football love. After their star player was injured, the Brazilian team pretty much stopped having fun and, in addition to forgetting other important football things (like playing defense), this did much to lead to their horrible fourth place finish.
Fun and joy are contagious. Strive to bring a lot of these things to your life and people will be drawn to you.
10. Germany is Always There
Over 80% of Germany is powered by solar energy; they have excellent employment rates amidst financial catastrophe (we’re looking at you, Greece); they make things, unlike Canada, which gives their resources away so that real countries like Germany, Japan and China can add value to them. Now they add soccer to the many other reasons to look towards Germany for leadership.
[JOHN’S NOTE]: There isn’t really a specific professional lesson here, although I will say that it’s important to be curious about things that your friends and colleagues like. People like people who are interested in them and who cheer for things that make them happy, even if you wanted Argentina to win the World Cup. So, let’s cheer for Kurt. Because Kurt likes Germany and we like Kurt.