WHEN YOU LOSE, IT’S BAD…BUT WHEN YOU WIN, IT’S EVEN WORSE.
Let me ask you a question. What is harder for you? Dealing with failure or dealing with success?
Coping with mistakes or maintaining a great performance game after game?
While everyone speaks about the importance of raising ourselves up after a mistake, or when we fail, I would like, with your permission, to spend two minutes reflecting on a challenge that I believe is even harder… DEALING WITH SUCCESS IN FOOTBALL AND IN LIFE!
SO, WHY IS MAINTAINING SUCCESS SO HARD, YOU MIGHT ASK?
Well, I remember my first game after winning the championship, as a 19-year old Maccabi Haifa FC first team player. Until that first title, I was a nobody. I had no heavy expectations on my shoulders and, therefore, I didn’t feel the pressure of succeeding or the fear of failing. I had nothing to lose – I played to win!
But then, after winning the first championship, I became somebody…People started to know me. Now it was a different story. The media started writing about me as ‘the new defender in town.’ I will never forget that feeling I had before every game. Sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach. “People know me,” I was telling myself. “I can’t mess up now!” And, here I was, a young player with a pretty impressive track record and, instead of enjoying it, I WAS TERRIFIED OF LOSING IT!
And so I started playing the game I loved so much, from the mentality of ‘playing not to lose.’ The results?… don’t ask! THE FEAR OF LOSING, MADE ME PLAY IT SAFE, HESITATING BEFORE EVERY PASS. I got my first punishment immediately after a critical game for my team in which I was given a penalty kick. The next morning, I woke up to a surge of negative newspaper reviews, declaring me the guilty party!
Fast forward to today, 15 years later. As the Mental Coach of Hapoel Beer Sheva FC first division team, it happened again.
Winning the historical championship, as the mentor of my team, was just the beginning of an even bigger pressure… winning the SECOND championship in a row! You see, to jump from underdog status to champions was one thing. But from champions to dominating the league was a totally different story!
So you see, recovering from a bad game can be hard, but maintaining stability in achieving high goals proves to be mercilessly unforgiving and very difficult. That’s why when you win, it’s harder because you are constantly worried that you will not be able to keep it up!
HOW TO MAINTAIN SUCCESS WITHOUT STRESS.
The question we have to ask ourselves is not just how to win. We have to ask ourselves how to maintain stability without the stress and anxiety that our demanding career causes us, in our journey to achieving high goals. So, how do we do it?
Allow me to introduce you to the 3 levels of footballers:
THE 3 LEVELS OF FOOTBALLERS – which one are you?
It turns out that there are 3 levels that every footballer goes through in his career. Please note that only 3% will make it to the 3rd level.
LEVEL 1 – SURVIVOR FOOTBALLER.
The survivor footballer plays the game from the ‘not losing’ mentality. This player always avoids taking that final shot in the 88th minute, because ‘not missing’ drives him much more than ‘maybe scoring’ the winning goal.
This survivor footballer so badly wants his game to go exactly as he planned in his mind that, subconsciously, he starts to hesitate before every move, over-thinking and analyzing every pass. His life becomes an ‘all or nothing… hero or zero…black or white’ existence and there is no in-between. One good pass at the beginning of the game and his confidence sky-rockets. But one mistake during the first 5 minutes can crash his self-esteem to the ground and there’s no point in even continuing.
The life of the survivor footballer is a roller coaster of emotions, an endless fight whereby he always feels smaller than the rest of the team players.
LEVEL 2 – SUCCESSFUL FOOTBALLER.
One level up and we have the successful footballer. He is the footballer who had made it!
He is already playing for a top club and gets paid very well. This player is always making progress and getting better and better.
Now he is well known in the media – he has celebrity status! To the outside world, everything looks marvelous. It really looks like he’s super confident and relaxed. But it turns out that the opposite is the case… his life is a race between stress and frustration. Does this sound weird? Allow me to explain:
Unlike the level 1 footballer (the survivor footballer)who has no expectations from the outside world, the level 2 player, the successful footballer, is expected to get better and better after every great performance. Unlike the level 1 player who can complain, act the victim and blame the world for not playing well because of his coach, the successful footballer doesn’t even have the privilege to complain! Yes, he is succeeding but this kind of success is a trap! It’s a kind of prison because now he is expected to do better and better after every record he breaks….the pressure is enormous!
Life, for the successful footballer, is a fight that can be summed up in one sentence: INCREASING RESULTS – INCREASING ANXIETY. Every win just sets the bar of expectation higher and higher. It’s a life where yesterday’s success becomes today’s enemy. Paradoxically, the only thing you want… success…is the exact barrier that puts your soul into stress and anxiety mode, 24 hours per day!
This is the reason why maintaining success is so hard. And you are not going to like what I’m about to say – but I will say it anyway. I BELIEVE THAT SUCCESS IS A SURVIVAL LEVEL IN DISGUISE – IT’S GLORY FROM THE OUTSIDE BUT DARK, STRESSFUL AND LONELY INSIDE THE MIND OF THIS FOOTBALLER. Because, no matter how great the game was, the next game is just around the corner. But there is another level:
LEVEL 3 – BEYOND WINNING AND ABOVE LOOSING FOOTBALLER.
Of course, this is the highest level footballer of all. The Beyond Winning & Above Loosing footballer has something that other’s don’t have. He has a winning identity THAT IS NOT ATTACHED TO RESULTS. His identity is independent of results. This means that the level 3 player knows HOW TO SEPARATE THE PERSON HE IS FROM HIS ACHIEVEMENTS AS A FOOTBALLER. He is the guy who values himself unconditionally as a strong, well-balanced human being – no matter what the results. So, how does he do it? Well, we can say that he builds his life on two roads….
ROAD 1 – is the footballer road.
ROAD 2 – is the whole-person road.
ROAD 1 builds you as a successful, achieving athlete and helps prepare you mentally for the challenges you will face when the pressure is on and you need to be at your best.
ROAD 2 builds your unconditional self-esteem as a strong, well-balanced human being, REGARDLESS OF THE RESULTS. This road leads you to attain a mental state in which you feel you are not lacking in anything. No result will ever dictate your self-worth as a strong human being. And this is where the magic begins… What magic? you ask…A great question…
When we are able to separate our self-worth from the result on the pitch. When we can detach ourselves from the dependence on the scoreboard, then we feel more relaxed and can allow our performance to be freer and less stressful. Paradoxically, right there, the results start to play in our favor… And, it only gets better, because the result does not control us! We are happy and we enjoy ourselves when we win.
Of course, we never get big-headed! And, when we lose, we accept ourselves and our losses with love…. as a lesson to learn from along the way… and we don’t declare it a tragedy.
So, how can you tap into the 3rd level footballer mode? How can you live your career BEYOND WINNING AND ABOVE LOOSING?
Here are 5 rules to remember:
1) GIVE YOUR ALL TO YOUR ROLE, BUT DON’T LET YOUR ROLE BE YOUR ALL.
It’s now time to start memorizing our new motto…the winning motto: “I will give all of myself to achieving the result, but I will never allow the result to be all that I am.” In other words: “I will never allow my results on the pitch to define 100 percent of who I am.”
2) REMEMBER YOU ARE NOT A FOOTBALLER WHO IS ALSO A HUMAN BEING…YOU ARE AN AMAZING HUMAN BEING WHO IS PLAYING GREAT FOOTBALL!
Therefore, in the moment before performing a game, we go in with the aim of winning!… … But in the moment after the game, whether we won or lost, we know that we are loved and worthy of a meaningful and fulfilling life, not because of the outcome but because it’s our natural right to feel worthy when we know that we did our very best at all times!
3) ANALYZE WINNING AND LOOSING IN THE SAME WAY.
That means don’t judge yourself by the end result. Judge yourself only on your performance!
4) FACTS NOT FEELINGS.
When the game is over, don’t decide how the game went according to your feelings. Instead, watch the game again and do it in a nonjudgmental way. Take a pen and paper and be a pro! Write down your performance from a TACTICAL and PROFESSIONAL point of view, and if your ego starts to get in the way, go back to tip B. that will remind you that you are not your results… you should analyze your performance in as much detail as possible… that’s all.
5) BE MODEST WHEN YOU WIN AND PROTECT YOURSELF WHEN YOU LOSE.
Remember, it’s not winning that makes you a better person. It’s just your ego telling you that you are ‘something’. Let me tell you something: you were ‘something’ even BEFORE you won!
Finally, John Wooden, one of the greatest basketball coaches the world has ever known, described this line of thinking so well. Wooden led the University of California (UCLA) to TEN championships within twelve years, an achievement that has not yet been repeated by any college coach.
He taught his players a philosophy that amounts to the following sentence: “When a game is over, and you see somebody that didn’t know the outcome, I hope they couldn’t tell by your actions whether you outscored an opponent or the opponent outscored you.” That’s how Wooden taught the players to know when they had won.
I believe these words describe a winning approach to a balanced life in a competitive world.
To your BEYOND WINNING AND ABOVE LOSING life
PS – Would you like me to send you my best-selling book “The Fearless Footballer – Playing Without Hesitation” for free?
You can get it from here: