Life can be compared to many different competitive games including soccer, football, boxing, basketball and baseball. While there are many similarities, the main difference is that instead of playing against another team or individual, we are in a constant battle with ourselves and with our emotions. In competition, as well as in life, our ability to control our thoughts and our actions determines our success.
Some of us live a life replete with joy and others with anguish. Life presents different challenges to all and there are no two lives which are exactly the same. Similarly, no two games in a season are exactly alike. During this incredible journey we call life, as in competitive sport, it's not the circumstances which arise, rather our response to them which makes the difference.
Let's take, for example, the World Cup of soccer which currently grips the world with fervor. Let's imagine the four year road to the World Cup is our life, each year a game and each day a play. Each day we wake up, we have a new beginning, a new play. What happened yesterday influences and, yet, does not equal our future. The game doesn't finish until referee blows his whistle for the last time.
It's possible to be in a slump for several games. Even so, each morning we receive the ball and we have a new beginning. Achieving small successes today through successful passes and plays establishes a base for continued success tomorrow. While simple in theory, it is certainly not easy. As much as we want to forget yesterday's trials and tribulations, they can play in our minds like a movie playing a bad dream which continually haunt us.
Coaches and motivational speakers promote positive thinking as the Holy Grail to success and happiness. While being a fundamental element, it's not enough to reach all objectives. In addition to positive thinking, we must be in shape and be prepared.
Even with an excellent attitude, excellent physical condition and preparation, there will be times when we fail. Even superstars playing on the most renowned teams in the world fail. In fact, they fail more often than not. Those who are most successful achieve many small successes, one play at a time. For each successful goal they score, they have countless missed hits and shots off goal. In the end, it's the small things which make a tremendous difference in soccer and in life.
The most famous soccer players are frequently those who score the most goals. The emotion of watching a player score a goal from outside the box is, without a doubt, one of the most sensational events in a game. Under most circumstances, coaches prefer to have a series of good plays which take them deep into their opponent's territory than many low percentage shots taken from far away. A series of small successful plays rather than thrilling long shots tend to be the difference in winning or losing.
Soccer and life are better played by doing little things correctly on a consistent basis. For example, we can eat right, exercise, read, build and grow. These are all habits which, when done consistently, lead to long term success.
Hitting a long shot, in life as in soccer, is an incredible feeling. Attempting to score from far way every time we get the ball will likely lead to frequent "failures" causing us to give up when the going gets tough and when positive energy is critical to success.
Winning each and every play in life is not essential. The road to become champion of the world in the World Cup is made up of many games and many opportunities. Understanding this dynamic provides us with the patience and perseverance necessary to improve every day in every way. When we learn from our failures, errors and mistakes we can take the ball each day with renewed vigor, facing the world with confidence to reach our goals and objectives - One Play at a Time.