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Career Lessons from Soccer

I have to admit I’m not exactly a huge fan of soccer but I’ve learnt to enjoy every game I get to see; surprisingly, I’ve learnt a few things I find applicable in life (real as it is). I read an article recently about Soccer, made a strong impression on my mind and further inspired this post in the hope that you connect to it as much as I did- and still do.

We often talk or hear about team management, team-support, team-spirit at work but equally worth mentioning is the fact that workplace is a highly competitive environment. Beyond every organisation’s goal of having a competitive edge in their respective industries and the global economy, innovative approaches in the workplace- which more often require collaboration of teams, units, departments -and in some cases- individuals, bring about internal competition; just as a fiercely competitive sport as soccer hinges its success on a fascinating blend of teamwork and internal rivalry, having each player continually strive to be outstanding even though he fully co-operates with his team.

Competition in the workplace could be befitting to obtain results otherwise it destroys workplace morale and further inhibits one’s career progress. Having personal goals are a rule of thumb to thrive in the workplace; some people may have a hard time reaching their set goals, usually due to factors beyond their control – like if you are an entry-level employee and your boss gives all the rules, setting goals off your limits which may cause you to experience work dissatisfaction; or you overtime realise your skills don’t particularly fit with your current job- but clearly some others seal their own fate by exhibiting behaviours springing from their ‘self-ish’ goals such as;

–          Being unnecessarily critical, identifying problems without proffering solutions.
–          Always griping at work about your colleagues and employers.
–          Not participating in casual activities with your colleagues.
–          Lacking email or general workplace etiquette

Winning in a game is very important but more often than not, losing the game is not what discourages teams but a rather dented morale. Being passionate about the game would not suffice either; it takes more than wanting to make your employers proud to thrive in the workplace. How do you control the factors you can to avoid terming them as failures on your employer’s part or as your career fate?

Try these tips to help you stand out as an individual and part of a team:

– Distinguish between external competition and internal competition; identify the needs of the organisation and in what scenarios you’ll need to collaborate in order to give room for healthy competition.
– While you are focused on your goals, it’s important you also have your attention on the company’s big picture, it’ll help you adapt to changes easily.
–  Keep yourself motivated by learning from your competitors; their accomplishments and failures.
–  Find a mentor who is familiar with your work to give you an objective perspective and challenge you to perform better.

Somehow, the stakes for success are constantly being raised higher; more than ever, we are forced to face challenges right off the bat, finding a balance in competing with ourselves and our immediate external environment becomes overarching. A Soccer player barely scores goals by hanging onto luck, and even if that works, it hardly does in the workplace.

Kindly share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Nathan Jeffery
Notification Bell