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worldcupIn case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, the world is on pause in honor of the 2014 World Cup. If you’re not familiar, the World Cup is a true test of champions in futbol – or soccer, as most Americans know it – where countries compete every 4 years at a chance to win the title, “World Champion”.

I’m a soccer aficionada, and have watched every game thus far, regardless of who is playing. Although my heart is with the US Men’s National Team (USMNT), I’ve been learning a lot about life from all of the teams. So here’s a run down of the 5 life lessons you can learn from the 2014 World Cup (and if you haven’t been following the tournament, you can pick up a few soccer bits and pieces to talk about at work with your coworkers):

Lesson 1: The outcome is never guaranteed.

This year’s tournament has been riddled with unexpected results. Take Costa Rica, for example. No one expected them to advance out of their group, let alone be heading into the quarterfinals. But after the penalty-kick-win yesterday, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Apply it: Don’t assume that someone else is going to out perform you just because they look better on paper. The attitude, effort, and confidence you bring into any situation – at work, home, or play – can be the deciding factor for success on any given day.

Lesson 2: Don’t let up until there’s no time left.

There have been so many late-game goals that have helped a team avoid a loss. Take, for example, Portugal in the 95th minute against the US to tie or Netherlands in the 94th minute against Mexico to win.

Apply it: The bottom line is your effort is the only thing you can control until the very end and letting up any earlier is only doing yourself a disservice. Keep working toward promotion. Keep crafting the details for your new business. Keep pushing until that final whistle blows.

Lesson 3: Make the most of your opportunities.

We’ve touched on this before in a previous AinA blog on making opportunities fit; when you get them, give it all you’ve got. Mexico’s goalkeeper, Ochoa, is an excellent example of this. Ochoa wasn’t signed on any professional team just prior to coming to the World Cup, but he’s seen every minute and has played tremendously against players who are making millions of dollars on some of the top clubs in the world.

Apply it: It doesn’t matter whom you are up against, when you have the chance, take it. Show them what you’ve got. You might be interviewing against some highly qualified people for a new job, or maybe you’re running for office against the current official. Don’t let that deter you. This is your chance. Be sure to make the most of it.

Lesson 4: The road to success isn’t paved in fairness.

The USMNT has had to travel over 9,000 miles while in Brazil to reach the different stadiums for their games. That’s like traveling from Los Angeles to New York and back again. Meanwhile, other teams are traveling significantly less far, giving them an easier travel schedule and better preparation and rest potential. Regardless of the disparity, the USMNT still have to produce the results on the field to advance to the next round.

Apply it: Everybody’s road is different and sometimes that’s not even or fair. The reality is life isn’t fair and success doesn’t feel sorry for you. If you have to work harder to get a good grade in class, do it. If you have to practice 300 times before you can nail your presentation, do it.  Maybe you have to work three years before promotion while someone else only worked two. So be it. The only way to reach your success is on your road, fair or not.

In addition to the thrilling victories, heart-breaking defeats, world-class goals, and staunch defending, the World Cup has provided food for thought on how to challenge oneself, face adversity, and come out successful on the other end. Seems like useful tools toward both winning the World Cup and winning at life.

Oh, yes. Don’t forget Lesson 5: Don’t bite people. 

Go, USA!

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