As a lover of sports, I have always been intrigued about the learnings from the sports field and its applications to everyday life experiences. A football match has many life lessons packed into 90 minutes. Here are some of the observations for reflection, whether you are a player, coach or mentor:
- You win some, you lose some (except when you are the Arsenal Invincibles 😉 my team for those who know me), jokes aside if you play a sport you will know that winning all the time just never happens, you have bad days and the opposition has some good days. This is my lesson number one, everything else flows from it. As the sportsman prayer says “… and if I should win, let it be by the code, with my faith and honor held high: and if I should lose, let me stand by the road, and cheer as the winners go by…” . So also in life there will be good days and bad days, and when you win may it be through the code and your honor held high and when you lose respect the outcome and get up and try again.
- Enjoy the game, the result is an outcome of the effort. This is easier said than done, but for those who get on top of this, they enjoy the sport and also enjoy life. Remember that whatever the outcome you will always rest in joy and satisfaction that ‘you gave it your best’. Today many interpret this as giving yourself a purpose, when you give yourself a purpose you enjoy the journey if you may never reach the destination, but you will always be happy and rest in peace in the fact that you did your best.
- Each of us have different roles & purposes – very starkly displayed in the various positions of the football team, the goalkeeper’s role is not the striker’s role and vice versa, and so on for each position be it holding midfielders, attacking midfielders, wing backs … it is important to understand your role and play it the best you can. So also in humanity each of us have a different role in this world, with god given talents and weaknesses, help others with your strengths and ask for support in your weak areas.
- All decisions are not in your favour – even with the latest VAR (Video Assisted referee) technology… there is a referee and not always the decision goes in your favour… remember such is life too. In life too there are imponderables and if you leave it close to call you may not get it your way. Sometimes unfairly so but life is not always fair. Don’t blame the unfairness continue to play the game and overcome it.
- Falls & Fouls are character building Fouls, Yellow and Red Cards are intended to make you a better player take it in the right spirit, and mistakes and errors provides life’s lessons from which you learn the most. Taken in the right spirit you learn most from your mistakes, the bigger folly is repeating them and not learning from your mistakes.
- Players have different professional relationships – other team members, other players, coaches, agents, sponsors, fans, and then there are mentors, family and friends who are not professional relationships. Each of stakeholder have their own interests in mind and may or may not necessarily align with yours. Make sure you understand these objectives and align them to know your best decision.
In the many people you come across in your life journey, its always more enriching if you understand their role starting with immediate family, relatives, friends, colleagues, seniors, juniors, coaches, agents.
Each of these individuals that cross your path and you share experiences over your lifetime will leave you with learnings, some with moments of joy and happiness and some with moments of sadness.
Every interaction makes you what you are today, but the choice of remaining happy, content, remains solely with you and what you take from each of life’s experiences. This is easier said than done and that is the reason we need our circles of family, friends, coaches and mentors.
Horses for courses: Roles of Mentors
The reason why professionals have different agents, coaches, and mentors is because each one plays a different role, the need for each one is important.
A coach focuses on developing your skills, both hard and soft skills, for talent maximization keeping in mind the group objectives and the role you are expected to play in the group. Sometimes this may not be in your self-interest (caveat being: your self-interest should not always be paramount), but it is important to understand the need of alignment of these interests. Coaches are able to guide you in your best role in the team and this may not always be the role you dreamt of,but will make you better person and the coach has perspectives which are wider and more experienced than your own. The focus is on training, learning and development.
Mentors help you keep your true north, mentoring understands the individuals values, objectives and provides the support that an individual needs when these are in conflict and help in making these difficult decisions.
A mentor is an individual who has no bias or self interest in your outcome, but helps you clear the clouds of doubts to help you make your decision. In these days the malicious narratives with views and counter views, it can often be confusing even for seniors to make a good decision. The need for that sounding board and person that brings an outside perspectives and objective views is imperative to guide and provide you the ability to stand by and enhance your value system, someone who can help you point in the direction you want to take and make the decision that is good for you. The only objective of the mentor is to is to give you the confidence to maintain your values and beliefs and support to face the difficulty of taking decisions with the pressures and often with the inability to say “No” to a temptation or the lure of a “safe decision” and fear of the bold, brave decisions that may take you out of your comfort zone.
This is crucial in the men and women we become in this world as all of us end up as individuals who are a but a manifestation of our experiences.
Today conflicts of the mind and value systems, start at a very early age and range from small issues to larger issues each with its own significant impact on your outlook of life. To illustrate a few challenges:
- When do you leave home out of the protective cover of your parents into an independent life?
- When is an appropriate time for a relationship?
- How do you handle conflicts in your profession with your values?
- How do you decide the balance between your career and family & social life
As you become more successful and climb the leadership ladder these value systems get increasingly tested and gain in importance and weight in attaining the heights that you desire and more importantly the happiness and peace of mind you have achieved through the “the code, with my faith and honor held high”.
To bring it to life, here are some real life sports examples that you may want to ponder about your life’s journey, the difference in the decisions could have taken these individuals down completely different paths which we can only hypothesise and ponder about :
Your thoughts on Neymar Jr leaving Barcelona for PSG?
Did you agree with his decision to leave and create his own success path or did you think he was better off at Barcelona playing with Messi? What do you think was his personal objective in his decision and would you do the same?
Do you think Messi who stuck with a single club Barcelona was the right decision or do you think leaving Barcelona and proving he could lift any other club to the greatness of FCB would make him a better player? What do you think was his thinking?
You will notice in these 2 cases there is no right or wrong answer, and of course there are many opinions and perspectives to view these scenarios, the same illustrate the decisions that lay before you and what makes these decisions right for any individual is the comfort that you are with the decisions and your own happiness.