The 2018 FIFA World Cup already has many lessons for us to ponder and work on.
The matches which Argentina played one agains Iceland and the other with Croatia are a reminder that your past glory counts for little in the present. The Argentinians were touted to be the favorites to win this world cup and they were by default to qualify from their group to the knock-out stages. Obviously when they had in their ranks one of the best players in the world Lionel Messi and the likes of Di Maria, Higuain et al.
These players had achieved so much in the past and their personal records, not to mention the money they were earning trading their skill on the pitch made people believe that they were unstoppable. They approached their matches with over-confidence stemming from their past records as well as disregard for their opponents.
They failed to realize that while they were basking in the glory of their records – of having won the world cup thrice, their opponents
were busy honing their skills, analysing and developing themselves on a continual basis. They didn’t take anything for granted and were prepared to take on the might of the Argentinians. But the Argies thought that by just appearing on the pitch, their opponents would surrender meakly and they will steam roll into the next round. Alas! they are now on the brink of a first round elimination.
A similar sight was visible when the Germans played their first round match with the Mexicans. Result – same.
Lesson – 1: Your past counts for nothing if you do not continually try to improve your wares. As your competitors are not going to resign and sit waiting to lose. They will be more hungry to take your position. So, keep sharpening your saw before you are blunted.
Now for the next one. Lionel Messi, touted to be the greatest player of all time, failed to convert a penalty, which the whole world thought was a piece of cake for him. This was not the first time in a major tournament he failed to deliver. I for one, when I saw him walk up to take the penalty knew for sure that it was going to be a disaster. Well the burden, the pressure was all writ large on his face. He panicked, and what could have been a victory for his team turned into a disastrous draw.
So what is going wrong with the Argentinians? They simply are not able to handle their emotions well. They are very similar to the South African cricket team, which boasts of some of the greatest players of all time, yet to win a major tournament. Their fear of losing is so high that they are overcome with extreme emotions which they are unable to cope with. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get eliminated in the first round.
Lesson – 2: It is not how skilled are you, but can you keep an even strain? Can you fight the urge to panic and instead be focused on what you can change? Be in the present?
Life is really no different. Obstacles make us emotional. The only way we’ll survive is by keeping those emotions in check. If we can keep steady no matter what happens, keeping the kind of calm equanimity that comes with the absence of irrational or extreme emotions.
Choose ‘introspection’ over ‘worry’.