England lost to Croatia in the world cup semi-finals last night. They worked hard to be there, they deserved to be there, they played good football and had a solid game plan going into the tournament. They had great support from the country and supporters in Russia. The camaraderie amongst this group of young, likable players was palpable. Their manager had been in their shoes in the past for his country and shared in both the optimism and eventual disappointment. They gave it everything they had but came up short of their ultimate goal of winning the coveted trophy. They made it 87.5% of the way there.
It's a process
In a post-match text message exchange home to the motherland to mates and siblings, one thing became apparent. Their loss to Croatia is not seen as a loss. Its seen as a huge step towards success. Its seen as part of the process.
Historically England have been serial underachievers. Since winning the trophy in 1966 they've come up short in a multitude of different ways. Sometimes not making it past seemingly meager opponents in the group stages, and sometimes losing heartbreakingly close to the final in a dramatic penalty shoot-out loss against a bitter rival. The point is, this current band of players has proven that a clear objective, hard work, and persistence gets you as close to your goal as possible. They're closer to ultimate success now than they had ever been, had they not planned the work and then worked the plan. They expected to win. But they aren't entitled too, just because they tried.
Same goes with us in our own endeavors. All our hard work doesn't mean we will definitely succeed (completely at least). But it does mean we will make it some way towards our desired goals and will be closer to achieving them than failing once and giving up or never trying in the first place.
Football is Life
Croatia and France, Sunday’s World Cup champions elect, have been working through their gears for 20 years now. Getting better, withstanding struggle (Croatia was born from an all too recent war in the early 90’s), trying and failing, collapsing under pressure, (Zinedine Zidane’s world-famous head-butt killed France's most recent chances of a world cup triumph at the last second in 2006) and yet still, here they are, charging forward towards their ultimate goal of world cup glory.
A key concept to grasp is that success is born from struggle. Sometimes multiple bouts of it. Even when you think you have your shit together 110% something might turn up and start a civil war, or headbutt you in the chest. Get up. Regroup. Keep fighting for your success. England will. And we will be back for that World Cup crown soon enough.