Friday, July 09, 2010

Lessons from the World Cup part IX: "The winning team"

All too quickly, it’s almost over. The World Cup hype has stoked our country for almost a month, and hopefully the positive vibe will continue beyond next Sunday night. We’ve seen some of soccer’s greatest names disappoint and some dark horses make good. Now it’s time for the best teams of the tournament to face off at Soccer City on Sunday night. 

The sangomas and psychic octopus are working hard to predict who will walk away with the trophy, while the bookies put Holland ahead of Spain to win. Either way, history will be made. Netherlands has never won a World Cup and Spain has never made it to the finals. 

So, what does it take to be a winner? 

Casino ads often carry the disclaimer that “winners know when to stop”,but it’s the other way round in competitive sports. Your biggest mistake in a contest of this magnitude is to stop or even slow anytime before the final whistle. Even if your team has one goal up on your opposition, you should still push for another goal- and then another. Watch the pros play and you’ll see they don’t relax when they take the lead, they keep pushing.

In business, too, winners don’t slow when business is good, they power on harder. Regardless of how spectacular profits may be, a successful businessman will strive for even more. Winning artists keep honing their skills, top musicians practice and practice and scientists consistently push the envelope of research and innovation.

As one of my high school teachers was fond of saying: “Keep on truckin’!”

Everyone accepts the winner’s attitude to sport or business, but we often overlook this approach in the core areas of life. A few years into our marriages, we are likely to feel comfortable, maybe complacent. We tend to get by with giving our children just enough attention and love, but nothing that ejects us from our comfort zone. We hardly tackle our Judaism with winner’s enthusiasm.

This week we’ll read the Torah portion called “Masei”, meaning “journeys”. Note, the name is “journeys”, in the plural. Judaism is about constantly progressing; always improving. As soon as you plateau, you are not living as a Jew should. 

Judaism is built on the winner’s attitude. Make sure you don’t take second place.

No comments: