Get in league with the champions by exercising resilience

Sep 25, 2022

On watching and later reflecting on the Champions League final this weekend, it got me thinking about how much we can learn from these young players when it comes to our own work.

The Liverpool vs. Real Madrid game in Kiev was insightful and entertaining. Simply observing how players reacted and responded to pitfalls generated so many lessons about resilience, mindset, teamwork and performance. These lessons apply to every single team and organisation out there, regardless of whether you play sport for a living or sit at a desk.

Whilst Gareth Bale was elevated onto a pedestal after his impressive second-half performance (did you see that goal?!), it was Loris Karius who has been mentioned for all the wrong reasons. The Liverpool goalkeeper experienced two extremely unfortunate goal “fails” which may or may not have cost his team the cup.

So let’s dive straight into what we can learn and apply back in the office….

1.   It’s the strength of the team that counts

Although Karius bore the brunt of the blame for Liverpool’s loss, we need to remember that a whole team of defenders and attackers is involved before the goalkeeper gets anywhere near the ball. Every single member of the team played a part in the outcome.

Liverpool Captain, Jordan Henderson, did what any strong leader would do and made it very explicit that football is a team sport and each player is there to support and strengthen each other. His statement about Karius was concise and impactful:

“It’s not about him and the mistakes he’s made, it’s about us as a team. We got here together as a team and we lose as a team. We’re all in it together. It’s not about one person, it’s about everybody."

This is something well worth remembering in the workplace, when we often focus on our own or our direct team instead of considering the best interests of the business as a whole.

2.   Celebrate success and performance, not just loss

When the Liverpool players went up to collect their medals, it was fascinating to hear the commentator refer to these as the “losers’ medals”.


These guys have made it to Champions League FINAL and they are losers?

The lesson here is to think about the wording you use and the impact this can have on your own mindset and those around you.

And armchair critics – take note.

Remember what Loris Karius has achieved in his 24 years on this planet – playing in a major, international sporting event and being selected to be in the first team for a top Premier League team. Most importantly, think about what you were doing when you were his age.

Unless you are on that pitch yourself, you cannot comprehend how much goes into every game performance. Just think about:

  • the nerves involved
  • the pressure to perform at your best during every minute of every single game, under the scrutiny of millions of people;
  • the physical strength and stamina required; and
  • the mental clarity, discipline and focus required to deal with crowd distractions, the speed and power of the ball, your own self-doubts and more.

All of this happening simultaneously and at pace.

3. How you bounce back from setbacks is what sets you apart                                    

Last but not least, let’s talk about resilience.

Saturday night’s game will have a huge impact on Karius, his self-confidence and his belief in his abilities. How he bounces back from all of this will be the most significant factor in his future success. Sure, he will feel personally responsible for Liverpool’s second placing but we’ve already addressed how football is a team sport (as is business).

Amazingly, within minutes of the final whistle, Karius was apologising to fans and immediately accepting accountability for what happened. This type of non-egotistical display of behaviour is so rare in the business world, where blame culture or drawn out silences are the norm when things go wrong.

Karius, at his young age, shows mature wisdom with his words:

“It’s very hard right now but that’s the life of a goalkeeper. You have to get your head up again.”

And this is a very important lesson for all of us, regardless of our line of work.

Accept when things go wrong, then pick yourself up and give it your best shot another day.


If this resonates with you, get in touch and let's explore how you can boost your own and your team's performance.

If you or your team need help mastering your mindset, talk to us about how we can set you up for long-term success. Discover how to achieve enhanced focus, greater resilience, higher productivity and top productivity.

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