Sports analogies have forever been utilized to prepare those in business for the competitive challenges evolving from global chaos. And for good reason. Where better to learn of the decisive impact of teamwork, motivation, communication, etc. and its influence on successful outcomes … for both individuals and organizations alike.
Sunday’s Women’s World Cup soccer final provided many lessons for those not only involved in the sports world but for anyone in the business world as well.
Let me be direct. Consider the following facts:
- This was Japan’s first appearance in the final of a major tournament!
- Japan had not beaten the Americans in their first 25 meetings!
- Japan suffered a pair of 2-0 losses to the U.S. team in warm-up games a month prior to the World Cup.
- Throughout the tournament, the Japanese teammates poignantly reminded the world that they were playing for their battered country, still reeling from the devastation of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami where nearly 23,000 people died or were reported missing.
- Several of their key players had considered skipping the World Cup this year as a result of the disaster. They changed their mind only at the last minute.
- They were hoping their success could provide even a small emotional lift to their nation.
- After each and every game, the team unfurled a banner which read: “To our Friends Around the World — Thank You for Your Support!”
- They paraded the banner prior to Sunday’s final as well. After the game, they unfurled another banner which read: “Champion — the First Asian country to win this title!”
- The odds were against them. Everything they read and heard predicted a U.S. domination of the final.
- They came from behind twice before winning this crucial final.
A closer study of this unique Japanese team will provide volumes on the subjects of teamwork, motivation, pride, determination, and focus.
Another valuable lesson appeared at the close of the game. While the U.S. team played a good game, they were beaten. Plain and simple. And they were shocked and devastated as their hopes for a Final World Cup victory were crushed. And yet, in the chaotic turmoil immediately following the end of the game, I watched several of the U.S. players approach their opponents with congratulatory hugs, handshakes and kind words … at a time when they probably would have preferred to be alone in their locker room drowning their sorrows. That says a great deal about the integrity and class of those young ladies. They served as a fine example for the millions around the world viewing this event. They’ll be back and they’ll be successful once again!