Play to Win: Our World Cup Champions Showed us How

Wow, what a run the US Women’s Soccer Team made to their 4th World Cup Championship! They were exciting, inspiring, motivating, and … provoking. Before the blazing images lose their luster, I want to remember what their efforts have sparked in this old soul, slightly past her soccer prime.

No, I can’t hope to imitate ’em. Can’t lope like Morgan. Can’t dig like Dunn. Can’t bend it like Rapinoe. Can’t laser like Lavelle. Can’t dance like Heath. Not gonna head it like Ertz. And no way on God’s green earth am I gonna tip it over the bar like Naeher. But, together, they were a thing of beauty. And since beauty inevitably inspires more beauty, I’m plucking a few gems to power up with as I perch on the precipice of the tough stuff I want to tackle.

Between World Cup games I’ve been reading Canoeing the Mountains, by Tod Bolsinger. He’s got me thinking about who we look to for leadership in our changing times and what it takes to lead others into uncharted territory. These World Cup champions are tackling the uncharted territory with utter abandon and not looking back! Bolsinger suggests that a would-be leader needs to let go, learn as you go, and keep going.

Here’s what the USWNT has shown me about that:

Let go of what people are gonna say about you

Megan Rapinoe, you’re a genius on this front. You’re secure in who you are and what you bring. Distraction? Not happening. Cool as they come. Alex Morgan, your sip of tea caused a stir. Honestly, I loved it. I’m tired of people expecting me to be nice, don’t make waves and keep it cordial. No man was ever asked to tone down their celebration this way. Letting it go!

Learn as you go … through

Jill Ellis, you taught us in World Cup 2015 how the team that gets better throughout the tournament positions itself to win. Better physically, better mentally, and better emotionally. That’s what sport will do for you if you embrace it and commit to getting better every day. What a kick-start to see this team live in the pressure and learn to thrive there Learning as I go is something I can always commit myself to.

Keep going no matter what

Tobin Heath, your foot skills and ball tricks are astounding (although I admit to being a bit frustrated when I wanted you to JUST shoot already!), but what I like most is how your feet keep churning, no matter what. This is not only hard to defend, but it lets you keep creating. And that’s non-negotiable if we’re gonna win the world again and again. Keep moving, keep churning, keep plying my trade as I let go and learn. Gameplan.

Always play to win

Champions, this is what you have me asking of myself: how, in everything I do, can I play to win? … unbashedly, unapologetically, unflinchingly. Winning is never a sure thing, but playing to win can be if I start WAY before the game and commit to finding out what it takes to win and working on that in every part of my life: eating to win, sleeping to win, networking to win, and yep, writing to win. Just need to let go of those detractors, keep getting better, and boldly keep going, no matter what.

Thanks, World Cup Champions. It’s only crazy until you do it. Now you did it. Getting my crazy on, thanks to you!


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