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January 20, 2019

Lessons From Football, Lessons From Arsenal

Lessons From Football, Lessons From Arsenal
Lessons From Football, Lessons From Arsenal

I’m not one to pretend I love football. I’m interested; I’m intrigued (more by fans than the game). But as we enter the season of sheer football madness, known as The World Cup, and after a rather eventful EPL season that saw Manchester United suffer countless horrible defeats and Arsenal take the FA cup on Saturday night, we can’t really runaway from the beautiful game (smh) that is football.

Are there lessons for all of us from the just concluded football season and as we enter the next. Yes, you don’t care much for football, but if there was ever a place we can look to for inspiration, motivation and probably humility – it would be to sports and the men and women who play for fame, for glory and some, just for the love of the game.

Practice, practice, practice - on and off the field: Scoring the last-second, game-winning goal isn’t where it’s at – we need to start from the endless coaches' meetings. The brutal practice sessions. The senseless hours spent watching game tapes, and preparing mentally and physically to play with a heart rate that threatens to end your very life.  Those are the moments that define athletes, teams, and coaches. Without all that – achieving trophy raising moments would be wishful thinking.

All of us in one way or another pray and wish for success and prosperity in what we do. Let’s stick to work and business for the sake of staying focused – we all want the sort of success we read about in Forbes and other such-like publications, however it's the day-to-day grind of constantly trying to improve processes, boost employee performance, adapt to changing market conditions, be a strong leader, dodge obstacles, and create opportunities -- that determines whether you and your business will ever be a success story.

Oh Moyes was he not a leader: It's one thing to know what leadership is; it's quite another to know how to handle it. Newsflash - not all leadership is positive. A few teammates will constantly be negative – it’s a virus. The result is this negative leadership affects more than just the complainers because it gives some of the mentally weaker players an excuse not to perform well.

But Moyes he did so well at Everton - Being a good leader isn't enough. Coaches lead, but they must make sure they have at least a few players who are able to lead while out on the field. When Sir Alex Ferguson led, he had a few leaders on the field as well. They didn’t necessarily have his smarts, but they played with the sort of passion and commitment that was infectious to the fans and other team players.

What position do you play: Great coaches and consistently successful business owners understand clear expectations are essential to success. Winning teams and successful businesses depend on individuals consistently achieving the expected. There’s nothing quite as awful as getting up everyday and getting on with a job where the method of reaching the ultimate goal is unknown. Let’s not complicate how this should work. If I do what's expected of me, and my teammates or employees do what is expected of them -- we win.

Where’s your offense and defense:  Sports teams that experience continued success are great at meeting their goals on the field with both offense and defense players doing their thing – well. Let me make it simple – we need to score, but we also need to stop our competition from scoring on our turf. So we get up every morning and work hard to gain new customers and increase market share, which is the offensive game. But we also need a defense side, where we work hard to protect the brand, look after customers, improve employee performance. The balance is necessary or else all the offensive work will be in-vain.

Kazi ngumu – deal with it. Anyone who has ever played a competitive sport knows that if you aren't willing to work hard, display courage, and showcase your talent, you won't earn much respect as a player.

Hard work is the key, but so is knowing what to work hard at and where to concentrate your efforts. Sports, whether they be individual (Serena Williams) or even team sports, have a lot of head-to-head battles. I once saw a picture of Bolt after a practice run where he trained so hard he threw up. Yap!

It's a simple formula and one that transcends sports.

Preparation makes perfect. Sportsmen and women and winning teams attribute their success to the amount of time they spent practicing, conditioning and strategizing to improve their strengths, correct their weaknesses, and prepare for their opponents. In sports, preparation is an expected reality – it’s how they live, even off season.

Unfortunately this simple expected reality isn't the norm for business people. Preparation goes hand in hand with ROI as we call it here – Relentless Ongoing Improvement, which is the key to continual business success.

Successful businesses know their competitors -- and what to expect from them. More importantly they are respectful of their competitors not dismissive. Preparation and clear knowledge is what separates the men and women from the boys and the girls, or, plainly stated, the winners from the losers.

So here’s to Arsenal, to Atletico Madrid and to winners everywhere and everyday. Sports or business – the rules are the same. Champions are not the ones who always win races - champions are the ones who get out there and try. And try harder the next time. And even harder the next time. 'Champion' is a state of mind. However - Champions are not just athletes; so play on player and have a winning week ahead.

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