July 10, 2019
I’m not a soccer fan. I can’t really tell you a lot about the sport, other than I played briefly when I went to a private school for a couple of years. I knew that the FIFA Women’s World Cup was being held in France because I was there prior to the tournament starting, and because some of my staff told me about it.
If you asked me about the players, there’s a good chance I don’t know who they are. I might even think you are naming an actress or a country music singer and not one of the best soccer players in the world.
What I do know is that winning a team championship in anything is not easy. Hearing that the United States women’s soccer team just won a fourth World Cup in the eight times it has been held is amazing. If you win half the time you do anything you are pretty good. Winning when you are the heavy favorite isn’t easy either.
Forget the sideshow that surrounded this team, they are winners. Plain and simple. The know how to get the job done. People called them arrogant. Their captain Megan Rapinoe was controversial in questioning their pay, the president and several other things. Her politics aside, she played great in the tournament.
This team rivals the greatest teams in any sport. Brazil men’s soccer, the New York Yankees, the Boston Celtics and L.A. Lakers, etc. They plowed through the field and put up impressive results.
How dominant were they?
In seven games, this team recorded 26 goals and four shutouts, while allowing only three goals. The Americans’ goal differential of 23 edged out Norway’s 1995 World Cup team for the top spot in the record books.
They never trailed in any of the seven matches they played. WOW!
The United States’ 26 total goals are a World Cup record. The U.S. had 132 shots (58 on target) and nine different goal scorers in the tournament.
In its opening game against Thailand, the USA broke three World Cup records: most goals scored by any team in a World Cup match (13), largest margin of victory in a WC match and most individual goal scorers in a single Women’s World Cup match (seven).
In every game except the final, the Americans scored in the first 12 minutes of play. (They scored in the 61st minute Sunday.) The Americans scored first in every game.
The top two scorers in the tournament came from the U.S.: Rapinoe won the Golden Boot with six goals and three assists, while Alex Morgan received the Silver Boot with six goals and three assists. Rapinoe got the Golden Boot because she scored more on a minute-per-goal basis (428 to 490).
They are the best at what they do. Like most successful people, they focus on what they are good at doing. And, most importantly, they focus on doing soccer and don’t waste time on other things.
That’s what winners do. They do it early and they do it often. They wake up and do. When the day ends for most people, they keep going. They fall asleep thinking about what they are going to do when they wake up the next day too.
When you find out what you want to do, you do that. When you love something, you want to do it. It becomes part of who you are. It is not really work for you.
Even more impressive about the U.S. women’s soccer team is that they put up great results when they are expected to win. It’s not always easy to be the favorite or the most talented team. Look at what happened to Golden State in the NBA playoffs. Toronto knocked them off when they weren’t supposed to win at the beginning of the playoffs.
The U.S. women went to Paris and beat the host nation France in the quarters, beat a tough England team in the semis and knocked off the Netherlands 2-0 in the final on Sunday. They expected to win and they backed up the “experts” by putting on a show throughout the tournament.
There’s a great quote from former U.S. women’s soccer legend Mia Hamm that talks about what it takes to be a winner.
“The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking,” Hamm said.
What are you doing to win? Do you put in the work it takes when nobody is watching you? When expectations are high, do you do what it takes to meet them, or even exceed them? That’s how you move from good to great. You have to keep raising the bar even when you are already better than most. You compete against yourself and not what others expect.
You can have all the talent in the world and not be a winner. If you get knocked down and don’t get up, you can’t win. We all experience failures and setbacks. The difference maker is in our reaction to those shortcomings. When we continue to get up after failing, we figure out how to win. If you can act with faith and not out of fear, you don’t worry about failing.
In Sunday’s final, the U.S. didn’t score in the first half. They took shot after shot for 45 minutes and had no goals to show for their work. They didn’t quit. They kept setting each other for chances to score and wore down the Dutch defense. After earning a penalty kick in the 61st minute, the U.S. got on the board.
Guess what? They didn’t stop because they had a 1-0 lead. Less than 10 minutes later, Rose Lavelle scored again to make it 2-0. They continued trying to score after that too. The U.S. women have figured out their recipe for success, and the result was their fourth World Cup trophy.
What are you doing today to be successful? Are you actively trying to succeed? Don’t be afraid to fail because that can cripple your effort and attitude. Be positive. Take action. Take shots. Not every effort will lead to a goal, but it will get you closer than sitting on the sidelines. Get in the game. You can’t win if you do not play. Don’t listen to the noise that distracts you from doing what you know you need to do.
Believe in what you are doing. Keep putting in the activity you know it takes to be a winner. When you fail, keep trying. Don’t quit. Bet on yourself. Know that you have what it takes inside you to win. I believe in you, and know that if you don’t give up success will come.
Real champions win when they are supposed to, even if it isn’t always easy. Obstacles don’t stop them. They keep pushing until they find a way to win.