Life lessons from the World Cup? Yup! Wisdom that will help you you live a better and happier life? You bet! Whether you are closely following the World Cup or not, you likely know of Germany’s semi-final round victory over Brazil this week. And while the United States is no longer competing, you may remember the headlines proclaiming that even though the US team lost to Germany, it was a loss that got them into the next round of competition! How does that work?!
It works because the first round of play at the World Cup is a “round robin” in which you play all the teams in your group, and how you do in all of those games cumulatively – both number of wins and overall goal count – effect your ability to advance to the “knockout round”.
So, because the United States only lost Germany by a score of 1-0, actually won a bunch of games early in the round, and the goal count in the Ghana vs Portugal game was low, Team USA advanced even as they lost Thursday to the Germans. And from these events at the World Cup, we learn the following four life lessons:
1. Sometimes you win, even when you lose, especially when you compete well.?Had the loss to Germany been a blow out, USA would likely not have advanced to the next round. Even though they lost, because they played well, they were able to advance. Don’t think that’s not a powerful life lesson!
2. Early victories have great pay offs down the road, especially when that road gets bumpy. Success is bankable. While previous successes do not guarantee future ones, they can never be “un-accomplished”, so whatever happens, they are always with you.
3. No single performance should define who we are or what our standing is – whether in a soccer competition or in life. It’s not that each “performance” in our lives doesn’t count, but we would all do better if we tried not to judge either ourselves or each other by any one of them.
4. Things are more inter-dependent than we often understand or remember. The goal count in the Ghana-Portugal game actually mattered when it came to determining whether or not USA would advance in the tournament.
So, whether it is events on another field or in another nation – even when its a game in which we aren’t playing – we are all far more connected that it may seem. Enjoy the rest of the Cup, or not, but definitely enjoy what happens as you work these four principles into your life.
Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC’s Nightline UpClose, PBS’s Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, “For God’s Sake,” for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and Beliefnet.com. He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.