Career Lessons we can Learn from the World Cup

Category: Career Development | Date: | Total Views: 9558


The most watched sporting event- FIFA world cup 2022 had a heavyweight final between France and Argentina, in which Kylian Mbappe-led France faced Lionel Messi-led Argentina. The final was spectacular and provided once in a lifetime learning experience, the FIFA world cup 2022 has, in fact, reinforced learning that can have a positive impact.

While you are being entertained watching some of the biggest sports stars perform in the biggest sporting event, there is also much you can learn from these heroes of football.  

Here are three things you can learn from the FIFA world cup in regard to career planning and development:

1. Composure and a positive inner voice:

A great quality developed by many successful athletes is the ability to be calm under pressure. The World Cup can be a high-pressure environment, and teams that are able to bounce back from setbacks and continue to persevere are often the ones that succeed. In a career setting, this can be applied to the importance of resilience and the ability to adapt and overcome challenges.

Composure has a huge part to play in achieving success in your job as well- whatever it may be. Nerve-racking events and situations are common in any professional field and how one handles such situations determine success or failure to a large extent. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is a quote to remember in any difficult situation.

In order to remain composed and maintain a positive attitude, it is first necessary to have a positive inner voice. If you keep telling yourself that you can fail, it is most likely that the slightest obstruction will create frustration and anxiety- eventually leading you to failure. Tell yourself you will be successful no matter what, and it is more probable that you will find ways to succeed in the most difficult situations.

2. Focus on only what’s in your control: 

Football is a team sport of 12 active individuals (counting the manager) on a side. Thus, the possibilities of what a single individual can do to influence the final result of the game are quite limited.      

Just like in football, an organisation is also a team where every individual is assigned to perform specific roles. The results of your organisation’s works is also similarly dependent on numerous factors that are both external and internal. If the greatest footballers cannot individually create a worthwhile impact in a small team of 23 players, you can’t expect to do more individually in an organisation of 50, 100 and more. Hence, instead of focusing more on results, keep your focus primarily on your roles. Put in efforts to perform your duties and tasks to the best of your abilities, no matter how others are influencing it. Focusing on other things that are beyond your control only causes you to lose focus on your own work, which in turn damages your own career.

3. Embrace a growth mind-set: 

According to a psychologist Carlos Dweck, there are two types of mindsets in a person- fixed mindset and growth mindset. People with fixed mindsets believe that their qualities are fixed traits that cannot be changed. Alternatively, those with growth mindsets believe that experience and learning can make them stronger and smarter, no matter how weak they initially are.

Let’s go beyond just the world cup for this one, and consider the life-story of English striker- Jamie Vardy. Did you know that Vardy was rejected as a footballer by Sheffield Wednesday- a second tier league team, in his early days? He was told he wasn’t good enough to be a footballer, so he went to work at a carbon factory. He could have given up, but he never stopped training. He instead opted to work on the shortcomings that got him rejected, until he got his first break at Stockbridge Park- an eighth tier team in the English league system. He began his journey from there, which was full of mistakes and bad experiences. Yet he eventually went on to win the Premier league with an underdog club, Leicester City. At the age of 31, he is now playing in the World cup as England’s striker. He may not be the first pick, but that is only due to the presence of Harry Kane- a favourite for winning the golden boot this tournament.

The point here is that Vardy could have easily decided we wasn’t good enough (fixed mindset), but he instead embraced a growth mindset, whereby taking every incident of failure as an experience of learning and growth.

Such a mindset can be adopted in the workplace as well- where you can view every bad presentation, every missed deadline, or any other failure as a chance to identify your mistakes and weaknesses, and make amends to be better at your craft- whatever it may be.

People with growth mindsets also view challenges as opportunities for further personal development rather than deciding they are not up to the task. Working with such a mindset can eventually reach you the biggest stages of your career, similar to Vardy at the World cup. 

Our careers are thus, a roller coaster of a ride similar to the World cup. In one instance we are champions and in the next we fail to meet the tiniest expectations. All we can do is remain composed, focus on performing our best at our assigned tasks, and learn from all experiences- even the experiences of others.

Let us know what else you feel can be learned from the world cup in the comments below.

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