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Turning Failure Into Success: World Cup Case Study

For those of us following the world cup it’s been both pleasure and pain. Pleasure seeing our chosen team win, and pain watching their tears of failure. We’ve witnessed the highs and lows, have gasped as some of the top teams left and been in awe at the unexpected rise of talent.

One thing I know I noticed was where and when the cracks started to appear.

– Brazil losing momentum in the second half of the quarter final against Netherlands

– England’s loss of drive and passion when playing Germany

– Italy’s careless mistakes on the pitch with Slovakia

– Ghana’s over-eagerness to win against Uruguay

For an avid watcher, it’s easy to shout abuse at the TV screen.
We only see the game play; what happens at the time.
We miss all the build up, which is the most important part (the preparation and planning).
So if we were to see the build up, we might understand why the match played out as it did.

If we were so inclined, we could even offer our advice…

1. Research and observe

Never play a team you haven’t seen in action. Similarly, never adopt an approach you haven’t tested. The competition has their strengths and weaknesses like everyone else. Learn them. And even better – know how to oppose them.
This gives YOU confidence and leverage.

2. Preparation and practice

It’s no good Capello locking the England team in a room for hours on end going stir crazy.
This breeds boredom, depression and anger – all negative emotions, and especially in Rooney’s case, the latter was unbelievably apparent on pitch. What the team needs is the team. That means practicing strategy against the researched competition, working together and devising ways to thawt the other team’s efforts. Basically psyching up and feeling energised.

3. Have the right attitude

You have researched your competition, you know all their moves, tricks, strengths and weaknesses. You’ve practiced and you are feeling energised. Good. All you need now is to set the right mood to get in the zone.
According to top sports psychologists, having the right mentality and attitude on the day is the key to being successful.

That means:

  • Getting a good nights sleep.
  • Focus your mind on what needs to be done.
  • Visualise your goals.
  • Slow it all down in your head.
  • Forget the distractions.
  • Do your breathing exercises.

4. Dealing with pressure

It’s OK to want to win. That’s the reason you’re here. BUT… the pressure of wanting to win can be over-powering.
If you’ve practiced the point above, then its just a matter of holding onto that.
Let the training kick in. Blot out the crowd. Stay calm, but purposeful. Value and have faith in your team members. If you’re losing, focus on the calm, don’t get mad, get even.
If it gets to penalties – think first, quell the nerves. You’re in control. You studied the goalie remember.

Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. We take on and carry that strength with us.
If we never fail, then how can we appreciate and value success.
If you lose this one, don’t dwell. DO evaluate. Know where you failed and learn from it.
With this knowledge, look to the next challenge.

Does anyone have any other points to add?

Christina is a complete geek, hence a perfect web + online marketing consultant. After ten years working with Premier Recruitment Group, LA Fitness, Monarch Airlines, Thomson Travel and a host of other companies, she now owns CG Online Marketing ( in Ireland and is an associate of the Ahain Group. She's qualified in most things online such as web server management, digital design, Google Analytics and SEO. Specialties: Social Media Marketing, SEO / PPC,Google analytics (qualified in GA IQ) Web trends + insights, Data segmentation and targeting, Customer Behavior analysis, Digital design, Writing, Ethical marketing Green marketing / Sustainable tourism and Hotel + travel online marketing

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  • Hello Christina. An enjoyable post (even for someone who really doesn’t like football and remained blissfully unaware of the last month 🙂 ) with some good hints and tips. The point you make on understanding your opposition a.k.a. the competition is a good one. Understanding what they don’t do particularly well can be something that you can build on and deliver better. But you have to take the time to understand it and make their failing work for you. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi Christina, slightly off point but I think that FIFA need to now look at ways in which they can improve the overall level of the tournament. As a follower of many sports soccer is now way down my list of sports I like to watch. So I’d like to add if it’s not working, don’t be afraid to change it.

  • Lovely read there Christina – and very motivational! I like the way you have pointed out that losing is not necessarily a bad thing, but can help achieve our goals by trial and error. Good stuff!

  • A timely piece…I especially like the ‘slow it all down in your head’ one. It’s easy to get caught up in what we should or shouldn’t be doing and be in the that moment. Letting things all just settle and for us to regroup before charging full steam ahead. Nice post 🙂

  • Hi Christina – I think what you say about evaluating is key to turning things around. If things haven’t gone as well as expected, then you need to take it on the chin, evaluate why and revise your approach.

    And to carry the ‘footie’ analogy a bit further, unlike the football pitch, life’s ‘goal posts’ can move. In order to learn and progress in any sphere, you have to be able to change position. And it takes a dynamic and flexible person not to succumb to the creature comforts of habits!

  • Thats true Jennie and prob the most difficult for people; acceptance. There is nothing wrong with a bit of self constructive criticism.

    Logoscoach – Regrouping allows you to really think before acting. Tks for the comments!

    Sarah – Losing is a way of learning. We all like to win, of couse we do, but losing and our reaction to it defines us as people. The value and experience of winner after is the real trophy!

    Niall – FIFA are guilty of exploiting bad behaviour and even worst tactics and techniques. It brings in money so why change it. Football has turned into an ugly game of unethical and immoral (not to mention dramatic) occurances. Its a real pity.

    Thank you Barney for the mention of understanding what your competition are not doing – here’s where you gain that leverage I was talking about!

    Life’s ‘goal posts’ – love it! Yes, flexibility is an important trait to have.

  • Anonymous

    totally agree. Football is now boring me.

  • Anonymous

    great post Christina. Many lessons to be learned that you’ve already pointed out. One other learning point that we can take from football in general is not to make assumptions about your customers. I think FIFA, national associations and the top clubs have been guilty of this, and as Niall says they are losing ground to other sports. For example the recent decisions by the FAI to play Brazil in London, and not to allow Barcelona to play Limerick, have certainly alienated fans, and personally I will not be setting foot into Aviva stadium for a football game under the current regime.

    Another learning that I can’t help but share is cost of over-exposure, and familiarity breeding contempt. The World Cup used to be really special, as back in the day there was no Sky Sports and you were lucky to see one game of football on the TV in a month. When the World Cup came around, it was genuinely exciting. Now you can watch football on TV 7 days a week, therefore when the World Cup arrives, it really isn’t anything special, in fact it is just more of the same.

  • Hi Frank,Your second point struck a cord – there is too much football on TV and yes it has lost it’s novelty or glint. The build up is still there I think, but not to the same extent. Maybe they should invest more time and energy in differentiating the world cup so that it will be special.One last point I missed, is the World cup more political these days?What happened with Ireland and France was completely unfair, but could there be a World Cup without all the key players such as France…? Think there’s another blog in there somewhere…Thanks for your thoughts Frank!Tina

  • Sorry Neil, was talking to a Marc before making this comment 🙂

  • Hi Denise, I like common sense approaches, great post! One of the things that I often notice with goal setting is that people set themselves up to fail in going to extremes rather than aimed for more doable targets over shorter time frames. As you point out in your post, people who achieve their aims are able to break targets down in to small manageable chunks. Great Reminders, Niall

  • Denise

    Hey Elaine,nnFirstly, well done you for giving up smoking. That’s a huge achievement. nnSecondly, I whole-heartedly agree that resolutions need planning with a SMART approach. It’s only then that they will be achieved. Glad you liked my post. nD.

  • Denise

    Hey hey Barney, I agree completely with you about the smaller achievements. Sometimes when you’re working away, you don’t notice the little achievements. Yet often they are the achievements that drive you and motivate you to do a bit more. nnLet us know about your achievements noting them for yourself. nnTake carenDenise

  • Anonymous

    Great post Denise. I agree that you shouldn’t be tied down by a particular time of the year. I’d like to recommend the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology in which emphasis is placed on different levels of focusnnRunway – Next Actionsn10,000 ft – Projectsn20,000 ft – Areas of Focus and Responsibilityn30,000 ft – Goals and Objectivesn40,000 ft – Visionn50,000 ft – Purpose and PrinciplesnnThe idea is that the higher your focus level is the less frequent you need to visit it. For example, you review Next Actions at least once a day; Projects once a week; Areas of Focus once a month; Goals/Objectives once a quarter; etc.nnThis is a really effective way of ensuring that goals you set for yourself are being translated into concrete outcomes. Of course by the time you come to do your quarterly Goals/Objectives you will be able to measure if any progress has been made.

  • Denise

    Hi Frank, nThanks for stopping by and sharing the GTD methodology. I’ve never heard of it but makes sense. I like it. So better get back onto the runway and focus on it! nTake care,nD.

  • Hey Denise. nnI focus on one goal – and one goal only – until I get it right… and then do the next. nnTaking on too much defeats one’s purpose, or at least mine :)nnIvan

  • Great advice. Every day is a fresh start. Like that one. Goals should be direction we lead our life, not something we judge ourselves with.

  • Andrea

    Great point! Yes, start anytime, it doesn’t have to be a specific date on the calendar or time of day. Any time I have achieved something that I wanted badly enough something in me just clicked and I went for it. I didn’t wait for a specific time, because when it feels right you go for it then and there.

  • Denise

    I like that Ivan – one goal at a time. A great sense of achievement for you at the end, I’m sure.nD.

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