6 Career Lessons From the World Cup
Every four years the men and women's World Cups come along-the men's tournament is this year, the women play next year-and, if you're American, soccer is suddenly front-page news. For one month you can turn on the TV (or livestream on your computer if you're stuck at work) and see the world's best soccer players battling for the biggest prize in the game and also giving you a heart attack as you watch them lose the lead in the last minute of a game. Hypothetically, of course.
Still, the World Cup is fun because it's the best players around the world doing what they do best and letting you live vicariously through their fancy footwork. It's also a month-long display of teamwork, camaraderie, sportsmanship and competition on the world stage.
Maybe it's because we've watched so many games-or maybe we just want to justify having watched so many games during work hours-but we've noticed a few lessons we can all learn from these players.
Here are six do's and don'ts we can all take from the pitch to the workplace:
1. Do realize sometimes you need to go backward in order to move forward
A good team knows that you can't just take a shot because you're near the goal; you need to have the right opportunity otherwise you'll lose possession. So you might be painfully near the goal but then pass it back and back and back until it's time to strike. A great player also knows that sometimes you've got to take the risk and shoot.
At work: When an opportunity, such as a promotion or even a new job, presents itself, your instinct might be to take it and charge ahead. That might be the right opportunity...but it might not be. Think about your career goals, what makes you happy, what you're good at, and what makes the most sense for you. Sometimes saying, "Not right now" is the right choice.
2. Don't headbutt people.
You'll get a red card and have to miss a few games.
At work: You'll probably get fired and maybe even criminally charged.
3. Do think of the big picture
The World Cup has a points system and groupings that make for some odd results. For example, one team can tie another team or maybe even lose, but if the points work out, they both still advance to the next round. A win is always great, but sometimes not winning still has a positive outcome overall.
At work: Getting mired in the minutiae of office politics or minor setbacks can take a toll on your self-esteem. After a frustrating day, you might think there's no point in trying anymore. Before you decide to give up and go elsewhere, think about what's really happening. Is your career path derailed or are you just having a bad day? Don't get so discouraged by a minor obstacle that you fail to see what's going right with your career.
4. Don't bite your colleagues.
Biting other players is generally discouraged and can cost you a lot.
At work: No good can come from biting anyone. Let's just leave it at that. If you disagree, you might want to talk to your HR representative.
5. Do trust your team
Goalkeepers have a lot of pressure. They're the last line of defense against an opponent's kick, and letting a goal in can be the difference between going home or moving up. Still, that ball had to get past 10 other players in order to get into that net, and the keeper has trust that the team is doing its best to make sure that doesn't happen.
At work: If you have no reason to doubt the skills and support of your colleagues, then don't. Let them do their jobs using their expertise, and trust that they will deliver quality work. Relying on other people can be scary, especially when your career is involved, but it's necessary because no one can do everything alone. However, if you really can't trust the people around you, then you might want to look for another job.
6. Don't exchange shirts with your co-workers
Some players like switching jerseys with their opponents after a game. It's a ritual to show camaraderie and often signifies an important game.
At work: Asking a colleague to exchange shirts is only setting yourself up for a lawsuit and probably a lifetime ban from all happy hours.
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