Football: More Than Just a Game

07/14/2010 02:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Yehuda Berg Author, Speaker, Teacher, Co-Director of Kabbalah Centre International

Every four years, people of all shapes and sizes, ethnicities and countries, gather around stadiums, watering holes, and television sets, to witness what many believe is the world's most exciting sporting event, the FIFA world cup. This occasion unifies countries, evokes patriotism and makes kids out of adults of all ages -- a truly international experience that captivates hundreds of millions of people. This year, as always, we've seen thrills, spills, upsets, heroes, goats and football idols cementing their role in history. But the power of balance is a recurring theme that I can't help but notice. The teams that have had the most success are the ones with the most solid core; teams that help one another fill the talent gap and are selfless; teams where each individual understands their role and their part of a larger picture; teams that recognize that the sum of their parts are more powerful and prevailing than the individual.

As with everything in our lives, a balanced approach brings the highest probability of continued success and eliminates the wild-cards and the elements of chance. Spain is a team that exemplified the balanced approach. Their poise, steadiness and team centered style have catapulted them to the finals of the FIFA cup. Win or lose in the finals, they teach us a valuable lesson. Theirs is a truly sharing and giving attitude towards the game which defeats the self-serving, ego-driven attitude of superstars whose sense of entitlement is more important than the success of their team and the pride of their nation. The Spanish players share the ball, fill in gaps created by less skilled players, and control the game with hard work and humility.

How can we apply these basic principles to our daily lives? I know that comparing the challenges of life to a football match might seem simplistic and idealistic. But sometimes when we simplify things we can get a better perspective of the challenges we face daily. The attributes of working hard, sharing, recognizing our role in the bigger picture, and supporting our life-mates with humility and responsibility are universal principles that lead to individual and collective success. In truth, we are all part of the team of humanity. And as such we are all obligated to share ourselves, and our talents, for the sake of the team. We are required to recognize our specific role in society and understand how we can contribute to the well-being of whole.

It may be that these attributes are not naturally a part of who we are. We may prefer to stay within our comfort zone or not stretch our consciousness. And we may not want to be an over-achiever that is under-recognized or fill the gaps left behind by others. To this I say, okay I guess we need to ask ourselves, "Do I want my team to hoist the trophy?" "Do I want to be a significant contributor of a winning environment, or do I want to command all the recognition and credit and be a part of a culture of failure?"

It is my belief that the most significant work we can do on ourselves daily, weekly, yearly, is to know our true gifts, thus defining our rules of engagement with our teammates in life. No one person is an island. Humans live in family groups, ethnic groups, and denominational groups and are part of a larger society. Our contribution purely depends on our consciousness and our willingness to support those in need, to show vulnerability and accept the support of others, to share without expecting the credit, to give it our all and allow our hard work to decide the outcome, to understand that control can only be achieved with a shared responsibility.

Balance and stability is the result of a team effort. Whether you are the goal-keeper, striker, or a mid-fielder, you are part of the balance. The signs of success are being reminded to us continuously through games and contests. Life is a game. A football tournament merely exemplifies the attributes necessary to be successful in a world's stage.

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