Life is a maze and no one is born with a manual, yet life must be lived somehow. One great thing about life is that there are clues hidden everywhere. Like in a goldmine, you just have to know where to look.
There are lessons in life to be learnt from almost everything that can be observed, from pouring water in your glass to watching a football game. The lessons may not all be pretty, but they can help you steer the ship that is your life aright in good times and through bad times.
Sports isn't just entertainment. Here are a few of my favourite lessons I am reminded of when I watch a sports game or involve myself in one.
1. You're Not Always Going to Win, so Move on
Like in life, you don't always come out on top in sports. Athletes know this and know how to move on. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, but they don't expect everything to go as planned.
I recall watching the soccer world cup of 2010, a match between Portugal and North Korea when the North Koreans lost 7:0. I was shocked to find that at the 80th minute they were still putting in their best. It was also the first time a live football game was broadcast on North Korean television.
In 2014 this same set of players had to walk out to the field in another competition and struck up some amazing points. You would think they would give up on international competitions. In life you will not always win, but you will have to master the art of moving on and trying again.
2. Hard Work Does Yield Results
Most Athletes know that time, energy and enthusiasm equals success. They've been through enough games to know the formula and see the results. After Christiano Ronaldo's arrival at Old Trafford, he suffered a major body transformation, from a skinny boy to a muscled man and that didn't happen by accident, it was work. Hard work.
His game got better and his stamina increased. Fact of life: hard work pays. This principle won't change. While we can make a lot of smart work and strategies, we all need to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone if we want something outstanding.
3. If You Don't Take a Chance, You Wouldn't Fail... or Win
I often cringe when a basketball player tries to take a risky three pointer at the death just to secure maximum points or perhaps when a soccer player tries to take that shot with a few minutes left to play. You lose some, you win some, but what is most important is that you try.
Have you noticed the pure hysteria that hits the stadium if the gamble pays off? Sports teaches us as well to take a chance and it is even seen in the way people bet on games.
Magnus Alebo, the CEO of Hero Gaming, when talking on the success of one of their brands; Betser said "The success of Betser is owing first to its innovative concept of rewarding courage and 'balls' and the mere fact that sports and games encourage most people to grow a pair".
If you don't learn anything from sports, learn to take a chance once in a while in life, the worst that can happen is that you fail...then you try something else. You only have one life and the greatest regrets on the death bed are always not of things not done right, but things not done.
4. Success is Sweetest When There's Someone to Cheer You on and to Share it with
A game with no crowd and fans is just a training session, no one really cares for victory. Though it might not seem so at first, fans have a great impact on the match atmosphere and on the players themselves. It's a synergistic relationship, they cheer you on and you get the victory for both of you. Great fans will cheer their team on even when they are on a losing streak.
Ever noticed how fans never want your trophy or medals? All they want is the satisfaction that you won. Everyone needs those kinds of friends in life. People that would be your cheerleaders no matter what and would believe in you no matter what. Don't pursue success alone, find those people.
5. You Must be Listening to Someone
Ever noticed those animated people on the sideline? They are the coaches and they are the brains behind the strategy and often times the key to success or failure in a game. You might say to yourself, 'but that team has great players they would win without a coach'. Then the team starts fumbling, till a great coach takes the reins.
Take the improvement of Chelsea FC in the 2016 season as an example of the impact coaches have on their team.
In life, talent is not enough, natural endowments and even zeal to use them are not enough, you need a mentor or people that you must always be able to listen to or your own gifts could kill you.
6. Trusting Others is Great
Lionel Messi made a baffling decision in a match where Barcelona FC played against Celta Vigo, He audaciously passed the ball from the penalty spot for one of his most ridiculous assists to date.
The Barcelona front man was felled in the box and looked primed to slot home the spot kick which would have been a record goal haul, but the Ballon d'Or holder decided instead to tap the ball ever so slightly in front of him, fooling the goalkeeper into diving, while Luis Suarez steamed into the box to complete his hat-trick. It's called trust and teamwork.
Nothing quite teaches us teamwork and trust as a great time spent watching any sports of your choice. Players in spite of their talent have to trust the entire team to succeed. In life as well, you should learn to let go and trust people to help you out. What if they fail? Well...trust them a second time.
Sports has great benefits to the body and to the mind and as we have seen here, it also can teach us a fair bit about life itself.