As I’ve watched this years’ World Cup soccer tournament, and of course cheered for my home town U.S. team, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated by the style of play exhibited by the U.S. team. No better example was in the last match against Belgium, where the U.S. did absolutely nothing but defend wave after wave of Belgium attacks. Tim Howard was absolutely brilliant in goal for 90+ minutes, but his team did very little to keep the pressure off him. Finally, Tim was beaten by two goals in the first overtime period, giving the Belgians a 2-0 lead. In desperation, the U.S. started attacking the Belgian goal, finally scoring in the second overtime period, and darn near equalizing the game, with several golden opportunities.

U.S. Coach Employs Defensive Style

So what are the business lessons we can learn from this? For starters, there is an absolute distinct difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. When you play to win, you’re aggressive, you go after your goals, and you make bold moves to make things happen. When you play not to lose, you’re on your heels all the time, reactive instead of proactive, and you let your competition dictate to you the style and pace of the game being played. It was absolutely astounding to watch what happened when the U.S. went on the offensive in that game. The tide totally shifted in their favor, the Belgians were off balance, and all of the sudden, after more than 105 minutes of defensive play, the U.S. team started to dictate the game and create scoring chances. Sadly, it was too little, too late, but I can’t help but wonder what might have been had the “Yanks” been more aggressive from the outset. The same lessons in business, and in life in general, are true. For those who wait for things to happen to and for them, the result is generally not what they want. For those willing to advance, take risks, and create opportunity, the sky is the limit!
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