Lessons from Tim Howard and the World Cup

July 2, 2014 | Admin

For all the sports fanatics, or USA lovers, this year’s World Cup has been an emotional whirl-wind. We have experienced every possible outcome from an undeniable win to a tie and the final, unfortunate loss that broke the heats of watchers across the world.

But despite the loss, one thing is certain, team USA played their hearts out and may go down in history as having one of the best goal-keepers to ever play in the World Cup games. Goalie Tim Howard was nearly unstoppable.The 35-year-old goalkeeper made 16 saves against Belgium – the most saves of any World Cup game since it’s beginning.

His performance somehow made the USA loss acceptable, or at least forgivable. Howard not only carried his own weight, but often picked up the slack for his teammate’s mistakes. He never pointed fingers at his team members for not carrying their own weight, but instead worked tirelessly to do everything in his power to bring his team to the win.

“Oddly enough, when you’re in the game, you don’t really think about that.” Howard said in a televised post-game interview. “You try to fix the problem and always believe you can do it. God, what an incredible group. Sometimes when you give your best, it doesn’t (work). I’m proud of this group.”

His quote says it perfectly – he never took credit for all he did but instead lifted up the rest of the team. I think there is a great deal we can learn from his heroic saves if we apply them to our own teams.

1. Support Your Team.

Businesses are riddled with a cut-throat mentality. Every man for himself and “I’m only in it for my own success”. But sometimes supporting your team is what makes you stand out. In fact, I have often found that the most noticed person in the team is the one who doesn’t have to proclaim their accomplishments anytime someone important walks in the room. Why? Because their team is doing it for them. Your team can speak far louder for you then you can for yourself.

That isn’t to say don’t try to become successful or have individual goals. You should. What it means is that you may find that you reach your goals far faster when you are supporting your team’s goals. I was watching a show recently (yes…Game of Thrones) and the King only sought his own glory and often (too often) asserted he was the ‘king’ and deserved to be treated as such. His advisor quickly responds with “Any man who must say ‘I am the King’, is no true king.” Well, a hard truth but this concept rings true in business every day. In contrast, Howard did not have to tell everyone he was the best at what he did. He proved it through his record-shattering 16 saves in a single game against the best teams in the world. His teammates, and everyone who watched, could attest for his talent and work without him having to assert it alone.

2. Tools Matter.

How many times have you sat at your desk to find yesterday’s to-do list somehow grew even longer over night? We are busy which means we are unable to carry our team or business to the win on our own. We not only need a team to help, but the right tools are essential. Howard used absolutely everything he could to keep the ball from sneaking it’s way into that net – he jumped, dove, dropped and kicked while using anything he had at his disposal – gloves, cleats, feet, hands. Fortunately for us, we have a few more tools to take advantage of. We have access to Email Marketing, CRM, Customer Support, eCommerce platforms and a multitude of others that can help make our lives simpler and automate important workflows.

And the glue that holds them together? In Howard’s case, it was his training that enabled all of these “tools” to talk in order to block the ball at the exact right angle and the exact right time. For us the glue is integration. App integration gives us the boost we need to be sure all of these tools are talking and sharing information so we can use them the right way at the right time. Integration helps ensure we are getting the most from each tool every time we use them.

3. Don’t Quit.

USA and Belgium had already played an exhausting full game, then they had to muster up the strength to play for two more 15 minute halves. Not to mention the goalie had no one to sub in for him. There was no one who could step in and give him a break or let him rest. But sometimes that is how it is in the real world. We deal with a lot every day, in and outside of work, but that doesn’t give you permission to quit or let your team down.

Howard gave it his all until the final seconds. He even let a few balls escape his reach, causing Belgium to score. Yet despite his failed attempts, he is still being praised as the USA’s Secretary of Defense. How many people (on a losing team) get that type of status?

Giving it your all doesn’t mean you will win each time. But in order to become great, we cannot let the fear of failing hold us back. Someone said once “Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it”.

In all you do, even if you are not happy with where you are at, do it to your best ability. Giving it your all in each circumstance will make you stand our far beyond the rest. Sometimes work is boring or tedious, but giving into the idea it is “beneath you” or “someone else’s job” is the fastest way miss out on true success.

No matter how hard we try, we may experience some losses along the way.  Despite the potential setbacks,  the important thing to remember is that we worked hard, adjusted to what was thrown (or kicked) at us, and supported our team.