I still haven’t quite hit the acceptance point in my five stages of World Cup–ending grief. So maybe I’ll keep writing about it till it come back? (That makes this the bargaining stage, I guess. Maybe I should add that to Kübler-Ross model?) As I refuse to let go, I rounded up the 10 lessons from the world cup 2014.

lessons from the world cup - Germany team 2014

1. Teamwork do the job, not an individual.

This was the constant theme throughout the World Cup and the finals was pretty much like “the best player in the world vs. the best team in the world.” Argentina build a system designed to lean heavily on their two big stars but Angel Di Maria was benched during the finals due to injury while Messi, despite being a flash of mercurial genius, wasn’t enough for Argentina to win the cup. In contrast, we saw Germany despite having big names –such as Özil, Müller, Kroos and the legend Miroslav Klose– created a great chemistry and worked together on keeping the ball possession dominated on their side.

Another example was Brazil who heavily depended on their talisman, Neymar, that when his vertebrate was fractured, the team’s entire spine went with him. While in Colombia, the loss of Radamel Falcao did not do a much damage as many people expected. Instead, the rest of the team rallied around James Rodriguez. They did not made it all the way, but they certainly left their mark.

1B v 2A: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

2. We should welcome change.

The Netherlands is one of the greatest team in football history. Though they never have won a World Cup, they were eight-time finalists and inspired a system of play that is copied across the planet. But Manager Louis van Gaal abandoned almost 40 years of Dutch tradition, moving from a flowing 4-3-3 system to a structured, defensively oriented 5-3-2-ish man marking approach. Their third-place finish wasn’t particularly highly regarded but the Oranje team showed that success can come in all shapes and system and we should welcome change. After all, it’s inevitable.

david-luiz-brazil-quarter finals world cup 2014

3. In crisis, be brave and face your fears.

Brazil’s players probably wanted the earth to swallow them up after their humiliating 7-1 defeat against Germany. Yet Brazil’s manager Luis Felipe Scolari strode onto the pitch and ordered them to face their furious fans to applaud them for their support during the tournament. It hardly makes up for the disappointment on the pitch but does maintain a healthy respect and may even have helped prevent a more violent crowd reaction (which Brazilian fans are infamous for). Facing up to failure is never easy or pleasant but being brave and facing your fears, is nevertheless the best way to approach a crisis.

4. Take Personal Responsibility

Scolari is a wealthy man and an experienced coach who will have no shortage of lucrative job offers. He has also won the World Cup with Brazil before in 2002 and taken Portugal to the final of the 2004 European Championships. So he could have shrugged off the defeat as a bad day in the office, though this would hardly have been tenable or popular. In admitting to the game being the worst moment of his life in post-match interviews, he aligned himself wholeheartedly with how the country’s fans were feeling and shared their pain. It may not alter very much but as the person in charge of the team, it is part of the job to take personal responsibility. In life, either you are in charge of your siblings or group (college or work) you should take responsibility even if it is not entirely your fault. Because you are in charge, you failed in some aspect and you should take responsibility.

5. Don’t be fake and whine.

Don’t fake your problems and don’t unnecessarily complain about them, you will lose respect among peers and colleagues. On several occasions, many football stars in the World Cup were shown to be faking injuries, unnecessarily complaining to the referees and generally whining about getting a rough deal during tough tackles. This lowered their esteem in the eyes of fans, and may even have led to wrong calls by referees which unfairly changed the game.

david luiz and james rodriguez

6. Be Gracious in victory.

Winning is great, but be magnanimous to the ones you defeated. Show your pride but also your dignity, appreciate your competitors for their good performance on a meritocratic basis. One of the beautiful gestures after Brazil’s victory over Colombia was Brazilian David Luiz consoling young striker James Rodriguez from Colombia, and asking the audience to applaud him.

7. Be gracious in defeat.

You can’t always be winner, so be gracious when you lose. Take it as part of the cycle or spiral of life and recoup to fight another day. Identify the real causes of defeat and plug those gaps. During the World Cup, some complaints were made by losing sides about the national origin of the referees, instead of addressing the real shortcomings of the team or style.


8. Learn from your mistakes.

Just like change, mistakes are inevitable, they are a part of human nature, organizational miss-steps and bad luck. It is okay to make a mistake, but don’t commit the same mistake twice. So learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them, treat them as a new form of learning or a source for next challenges. Brazil should have learnt from its mistakes during its defeat by Germany, but not doing so led to its next defeat by the Netherlands, among other reasons.

9. Learn from others’ mistakes.

Mistakes are costly, so keep an eye on others’ mistakes also. There’s a wealth of learning in study and analysis of the miss-steps of others – your competitors and counterparts. Argentina learnt well from watching Brazil’s rout by Germany, and made sure its defense was tighter; though it also lost, it was by a narrow margin.

10. Success is a long journey.

There are over 150 nations competing to be qualified in the World Cup but only 32 will be accepted. Then 16 teams will go to the knock-out stage then 8 will go through to quarter-finals until there will be 4 for the semis and the 2 will fight for the World Cup trophy. By just explaining how many teams will qualified in each stages, it already shows the journey of a team to success. Success is not easy to achieve, you’ll experience many obstacles. The World Cup champions, Germany, actually had been to 4 consecutive semi-finals before they reached and won the World Cup finals. So success is not something you get at first try. It takes determination, commitment and discipline.

mesut ozil shirtless

BONUS: You Should Have Regular Exercise & Healthy Diet

Playing football takes a lot of energy and physical strength, that’s why footballers needs regular exercise and a healthy diet to be able to be fit for every matches. Because of that, they have gorgeous bods (just look at those six-packs) and they’re very good looking. Having a healthy lifestyle will give you energy you need for everyday life and honestly, it will help you age graciously.

Do you have anything to add on this list of lessons from the World Cup 2014? Share it below.