It was real: Germany had just won the World Cup. Their game was quick, intelligent, and unpredictable. Their teamwork was simply perfect. Germany’s players had grown into a football team that was driven by passion for the game and an unbeatable hunger to win.
But in my experience, this exposes them to the dangers of defeat.
Why? There are two types of people: those who become stronger through victory and those who don’t. In sport, as well as in my career, I have suffered from the latter without even realizing what was going on.
Elevated by success, I was relying on old patterns to repeat great results. Trusting tried-and-true recipes, I focused on efficiency rather than reinventing my game.
Past successes kept me from being open to new ideas and I lost sight of other developments, such as the rise of my competitors. I became weak.
As I spoke to my mentor at work, who is a massive fan of the German national team, I thought about three ways to avoid falling victim to victory.
1. Past success doesn’t mean sh*t
If you waste time boasting about what you’ve achieved, you grow blind to the mistakes you’ve made along the way – you let go of the chance to learn from them.
Just like in football, you can allow yourself a day of celebration after you’ve won the title; however, the next day you should raise the bar and realize that the trophy you have won is a representation of your performance in the past, just as much as it is a mandate for your future.
2. Live every project like it’s your first and final
Every footballer remembers the first time they set foot on the pitch for a national game. They probably remember their heart beating faster than ever before, their focus set on one goal alone: to help the team perform at its best.
As I look back on my first project at work, I remember my excitement and desire to do something unprecedented that would really wow people. I was on a temporary contract and wanted my colleagues to be inspired through collaboration.
It could have been my last project and I wanted it to be the best it could possibly be. Realizing I had grown partially indifferent to my later projects, I swore to myself I would not let it happen again.
3. Stay hungry – break down to start up
The passion and surprise factor of being a dark horse in sports often stuns the bookmakers. Remember when Greece won the UEFA EURO 2004? They were young, passionate, and hungry for victory. They gave their all. Try to keep this sort of start-up mentality in your daily work.
Get together with your colleagues, be hungry and add fuel to the fire of your younger teammates. Let their passion be contagious, and approach your next project as if you were a new player coming into the starting line-up for the first time.
These thoughts have been a game changer for me. Today, my work is more exciting, pushing me to achieve way more than I thought I could.
The German national coach and his staff probably know these things and they don’t have to discover them by chance as I did. I’m excited to see their freshness and determination when they enter the stadia in France to show that winners can continue to be winners – with the right mindset.