Walking on the field brought back many memories. My own team played here when I was in high school. Today, I was walking on this particular field for the 3rd time as “Coach.” As a Coach, my role on game day is limited. I can strategize and encourage, but I can’t play. I’m not the difference maker anymore.
We were facing a talented opponent, but we are a talented team. We knew their strengths and weaknesses and we knew our own. The game started perfectly, we fought hard and went up by a goal early on. We had prepared, prepared, prepared and it seemed to be paying off. Unfortunately, the momentum didn’t last. As all great teams do, our opponent continued to fight and were able to capitalize on our mistakes and won the game. This loss hurt. We fought, we gave it our best, but it wasn’t enough.
In the moments after the loss, I wanted to blame the refs, the other team who I felt played dirty. I wanted to blame myself for not coaching or preparing my team better. I wanted to blame individuals for their mistakes. However, none of this would change the outcome. We lost. It hurt.
Would I do things differently looking back? Maybe. Can I learn from this and do things differently going forward? Absolutely. My biggest fear is letting this set back ruin our season. I don’t want us to lose our previous momentum and get down and lose our will to fight. I still believe in our team and I still believe in our goals.
In life, we will have set backs. There will be times we give our best and we prepare as much as possible and the outcome is still not what we desire. How do you respond? Do you hang your head and give up? Do you blame your spouse? Do you blame the coworker who didn’t come through on time? None of these will change the outcome, though they may make us feel better in the moment. The truly successful individuals are able to survive and thrive despite the circumstances.
As coaches, leaders, and individuals we cannot change the past. We cannot change the external circumstances. We can, however, control our reactions and preparations for the future. With my soccer team, I’m going to:
1. Focus on the positives. We fought hard and didn’t give up. We had significant stretches of time where we dominated play. I don’t want to lose sight of these accomplishments. We need to celebrate our mini successes. What do you need to celebrate?
2. Evaluate our weaknesses. On what do we need to spend more time working in practice? In the last 2 games, we’ve give up a goal in each on a long distance free kick. This is obviously an area where we are weak. We can take this knowledge and now do something about it. That’s the great thing about losses and failure; they expose your weaknesses faster and more clearly than winning or success will. What weakness has failure exposed recently for you?
3. Remind ourselves of the end goal. Our goals are bigger than any one game. We want to make it to play offs. We want to start and finish each game with no goals against. We are still on track to make play offs. We didn’t give up any goals in the first or last 5 minutes of either half. Our focus is still on the big picture goal. Yes, this game was a set back, but it is not insurmountable. Our goals are still in reach. What is the big goal you’re working towards?
Losing and failure are hard. For many people, failure is a huge barrier to even trying. Many businesses never get off the group because people are too afraid of failing to even begin. But, if we take failure for what it can be, an opportunity to learn, then we can grow and experience even greater successes later. If our team is able to make it to the playoffs I know we will be a stronger team for having fought through difficulty than if we went undefeated all season.