At the age of 44, I started playing soccer. I was fat, slow and middle-aged. To top that all off, I’ve never been much of a team sport kind of guy. I did play some basketball when I was younger, but I quit the team when I started high school. American football always seemed stupid to me, as younger husky Andrew was usually cast in a position that got hit a lot. I’ve always liked soccer, yet, for one reason or another, I never really got the chance to play much.

That changed last year when a close friend taught me you can play soccer at any age. I have been playing pretty much twice a week ever since. My new hobby has done much for me. I quickly lost 20 plus pounds. I’ve made new friends. And I’ve become more comfortable playing on a team.

It hasn’t been all fun and games. I really sucked at soccer when I started. I was fat and slow and didn’t have any skills. Along the way I’ve learned some things that have helped me become a better soccer player. But, it’s still a challenge that I enjoy.

The other day I realized how much some of the things I’ve learned are helping my business.

To play defense you need to learn some offense
I’m a defender in soccer. I love stopping people from scoring. I LOVE it. That said, I quickly learned that you still need to have some offensive skills to play soccer. You aren’t much good if you can’t convert your steal or block or tackle to help your team score. When I would practice, I would totally avoid any offensive skill practice. I mostly did this because I wasn’t really good at it. I wanted to practice defense. I wanted to get better at defense. But, this left me with some very one-sided skills. I would lose the ball easily. I would miss a pass. I would get flustered when I had to carry the ball. In business, I’m learning that I still need to practice the stuff I don’t enjoy.

Be patient
As a defender, my main role is to stop the other players from getting, passing or shooting the ball. When I first started playing I thought the best way to do this was to run up on the person with the ball and defend them much like you do in basketball. I quickly learned that this is a really stupid idea. Strikers would easily overtake me and often score on me. I soon realized that good defense is not always about attacking. Sometime you need to be patient and concede some ground. You need to assess your positioning, your team positioning and the skill of the forward with the ball.

Business is much like this. We like to think that people are overnight successes, but often they are years in the making. Soccer is teaching me to be more patient. I don’t need to jump in there all at once. I need to build on a structured plan that is focused on the ball and where I want it to go.

Teams are about the right people
Soccer is a team sport. Teams succeed by working together. I would take a soccer team with minimal skills that worked together over a team of high skilled individuals that don’t work together. I think I knew this one before I started playing soccer, but it is becoming clearer to me as I move forward in growing Spiel Pro. I want to quickly work toward finding out if vendors, partners and employees are going to be good teammates.  Not only will this help us win more, but we may just enjoy the experience more.

Attitude is everything
I’m not sure what triggers it yet, but there are days I just want to win more. When these days happen, I tend to play better. I doubt my skill has changed that much. I can only attribute this change in my play to attitude. Something clicks in my head that causes my body to react better and stronger. I’m still learning how to turn this on more often. My business is much like this. There are days when I wake up and I want to own the game parts market, and there are days when I feel deflated and beaten. I predict that this experience is pretty normal for most people. I’m just looking for ways to increase the days where I feel like I’m winning this game.

I’m glad I discovered soccer before it was too late for me to enjoy it. I think the same way about business. My friend that introduced me to soccer once said that we only have so many games in us, we should enjoy each and every one of them while we can.

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