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Lessons from Soccer and Recent Mistakes

I recently recalled one of my most vulnerable experiences. (You can find a cut at the story here, too.) In this case, it was how I was cut from the varsity soccer team both my junior and senior years. I shared the story to illustrate the lessons I’ve learned through soccer.

As I reflected on this experience again and while meeting with a young entrepreneur recently, I recalled the following lessons from soccer:
  • You’re only as good as your last game. This is actually not true, but it sets up for some great motivation for your next game.
  • You will make mistakes during games. However, the game keeps going. You need to, too.
  • You and everyone else will be caught up in the game. Realize that what happens on the field can affect what happens off it. Realize when mistakes and emotions occur. Realize there’s a season full of games. Realize there are years of seasons.
I’ve thought about these a lot recently and the need for authenticity and vulnerability. In this way, a couple mistakes that have occurred recently that I hadn’t thought about before:
  • Collateral damages. I have a “shopping list” of people who I’d like to work with. I’ve worked with many in the past. As I build out my team now and consider future endeavors, I think about this list. Further, that list contains persons who are part of teams of people I know. When I consider the people I want to work with, I think about the opportunities available for each individual. This, however, can fly in the face of the others on the team – the potential for collateral damage amongst individual relationships.
  • Being impulsive. Yes, I can be impulsive. Couple this with my love for language and phrases, and I have a recipe to say the wrong things too quickly. I appreciate the way authors express thoughts or how orators influence crowds. My excitement, then, can cause me to use phrases that may not actually echo what I mean. In today’s world with rapid, instant messaging, this can be dangerous.
It’s funny as I think about soccer. Truly great, experienced players are thoughtful, calm, and patient. Read: not impulsive. Recent mistakes have illustrated little in the way of experience.
Especially under duress, I realize the need to reach deep for patience and thoughtfulness. However, business is not like a game. Sometimes, you don’t get to keep playing. Sometimes, things don’t just stay on the field.

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