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You either win or learn!


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The World Cup has certainly captured the imagination of a number of nations so far as we have been treated to a number of upsets and shocks as a number of favourites and past winners have tumbled out of the competition. It’s certainly been an interesting competition to date and promises more drama before the final in mid-July.

As a fan of the England football team, I’m not going to make any prediction of what will happen to the team after their hard-fought win over Columbia. What I wanted to write about was the resilience that England showed to go through via a penalty shoot-out. Whilst this ending to the game provided an extremely nervous climax to an absorbing match, for the players and staff of England it threatened to be another disappointing end to an international tournament. Up until this match, England had not won a match via penalties at the World Cup before, and had only won one competitive match on penalties previously. Whilst the current England team had not been involved in these previous matches, they were aware of the fact that their predecessors had lost six of the previous seven penalty shoot outs.

Therefore, the pressure was really on the 5 players who stepped up to take a penalty as well as the goalkeeper and the resilience that they showed was impressive especially as one of their penalties was saved. It’s often said that you either ‘win or learn’ and in this article from the Guardian, it shows how the England management team have certainly learnt from previous tournaments and have taken steps to improve their performance in shootouts.

The article highlights the granular levels that the backroom staff have gone to plan for a successful outcome to the penalty shootouts. This ranged from a review of the England team’s previous failures at shootouts through to psychometric tests of the 23-man squad to assess their positions in the penalty taking order. The squad have also been practising taking penalties at every training session that they have held since March.

In every walk of life, we will face failure at some level but the important lessons are how we deal with these and what we learn to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. This applies to business dealing as much as it does high pressure penalty shootouts. This is a trait that we look for when we recruit people to work for our business as well as for candidates working for our clients. The ability to come back from failures and set-backs is a crucial but often not explicitly said requirement for working in business. Despite our best intentions, we are all likely to experience tough times and difficulties in work and it’s how we deal with it that matters most. We can’t control these situations where something goes wrong, but we can control how we react and then deal with it. We can either win or learn, and it is certainly clear that the England team have been learning but it’s not clear whether they can keep on winning.

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