Everyone who plays football (or any sport) wants to win. But not everyone believes they can.
And that is a key differentiator with Leicester City.
For the first time in their history, they won the FA Cup on Saturday in front of a not surprisingly emotional crowd of fans, beating Chelsea in a nail-biting finish.
It could have been anyone’s game – as cup finals usually are – but the moment belonged to Leicester, and to understand why, we should look below the surface of the game itself.
Not that long ago, Leicester were the underdogs, struggling to stay in the Premier League – then after the arrival of an encouraging manager, in Claudio Ranieri, who motivated them with pizzas when they won, they go and win the League against the odds in 2016. That in itself sent out a clear message: these ‘underdogs’ should not be underestimated. They can win.
Lessons we can all learn from
But what can we all learn from Leicester City, footy fan or not?
As a performance coach, I can see that there is something special about this team, and I’m not talking about the football.
It starts at the very top with the club’s owners, who have been taken into the hearts of both players and fans alike – and in the harsh business world of football (especially after this years’ shenanigans ) that’s huge. The owners of the club support, encourage and give the manager and players the space to get on and do their jobs. That’s refreshing.
And here is where the difference unfolds.
When the culture is right, a team can begin to flourish.
When the leadership is supportive and believes in their team, the team will grow.
When the bond between a team is tight, the will to win is strong.
That combination can make a team unstoppable.
In this instance, we’re talking Leicester – but the same applies to any team, anywhere. That said, if you don’t believe success like this could ever happen for you or your team, you’re probably right, because success starts with self-belief. Believe it first and then you have a chance.
Leicester City’s achievements prove that when you want to win badly, you can. But how and where do you start to help your team stand out above the rest and be a success?
Here are my tips:
1 – Create your end goal (excuse the pun).
Where do you want to be? Be crystal clear about the place you want to reach – make it so clear that you visualise yourself daily being there (yes daily, you want it badly don’t you?).
Have that goal written down; evidence shows that when goals are on paper, they are more likely to be achieved.
2 – Support your manager, support your team.
A winning team works closely together, in good times and in bad. Especially in bad.
They don’t play the ‘blame game’ when they lose, instead they work out how to be better the next time.
3 – Sharpen your skills.
No one becomes the best by standing still – look for ways to improve, regardless of how good you currently are.
Stay close to your competition, what do they do well? Whatever it is, do it better.
4 – Manage your mind.
When your knowledge and skill is already good, mental skills give you the edge. Manage your thoughts well – there’s no room for self-doubt.
5 – Never give up.
The truth is, you don’t know for certain when your success will come, and until it does, keep going.
Leicester City fought their way to stay in the league, they fought their way to the top of the league, and they didn’t give up the fight to win the FA Cup.
Never. Give. Up.
In a year of sadness and bad news, it’s amazing how watching a game of sport can pick you up. And yes, the FA Cup can teach us lessons about teamwork and winning, but this game brought us more than that.
It showed us how powerful it is when a team refuses to give up. They believed it was their time to win.
Amana Walker is a performance coach who works with a range of business leaders and sports professionals. More info at www.amanawalker.com
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