WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUL. 10, 2014
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Career Lessons from Brazil’s Capitulation in the Semi Final

It is often noticed that people in different professions end up completely sabotaging a project for focusing on factors over which they might not have any control. Instead of trying to complete the job at hand to the best of their abilities they tend to focus more on peripheral factors and that is something that should be avoided at all costs. The semi final between Brazil and Germany in the World Cup is a chilling reminder of how a team can collapse due to the lack of focus of the team members.

On Tuesday evening, the world waited in rapt attention as the first semi final of the FIFA World Cup between pre tournament favourites Brazil and Germany neared the kick off time, but within half an hour of absolute mayhem the game was as good as over as Brazil conceded 5 goals. The final scoreline was an astonishing 7-1 to Germany as the biggest annihilation in World Cup semi finals ever came to an end. The Brazilian supporters were in shock as were the rest of the world and perhaps even the Germans, who could not believe the scoreline themselves. However, what was noticeable was that the Brazilians cracked under pressure and could not claw their way back into the game after conceding the opening goal. There were several factors that contributed to the outcome but their lack of focus was at the heart of the disaster. Let’s take a look at the two events that instigated that state of affairs and what one can learn from the capitulation.

The Pressure of Being the Hosts

Hosts are always under pressure at World Cups; since they want to do well in front of their countrymen, however in case of the Brazilian team the situation was different since there many public protests in Brazil due to the widely reported $11 billion public expenditure that was incurred in order to stage the tournament. There was an underlying fear that if the team failed to win the competition then there might be widespread riots in the country and beneath the smiling faces of the players lay a layer of fear that seemed to grip them in the game against Germany. They were one game away from the final at the Maracana Stadium but the pressure of the occasion finally got to them as they imploded spectacularly.

Lesson: - If you are put in charge of the biggest project undertaken by your company, you should not think about the consequences of failure when you are working on it. It goes without saying that one should be cautious but the fear of failure should not interfere with the thought process.

The Preoccupation with Loss of Neymar

There was no doubt in anybody’s mind that if Brazil were to win the World Cup in front of their own fans then their prodigiously talented striker Neymar had to play a major role. In fact, he did play that role to perfection till he was ruled out of the tournament due to a fracture in his vertebrae, suffered during the quarter final against Columbia. The fact that their best player would not be able to play a part in the semi finals against the mighty Germans; hit the Brazilians hard and in the days leading up to the game it was evident, as the Brazilian players came out with their statements about how they would like to win it for Neymar. In fact, David Luiz, the defender, even held up a Neymar shirt as the team stood to attention to the Brazilian national anthem. As good as that gesture was, it could not hide the fact that the Brazilian team were more preoccupied with using the loss of Neymar as the motivation in order to win the game, which was perhaps the worst possible form of motivation considering the fact that they were on the verge of taking on one of the best teams in the competition. The Brazil national tea members treated an individual to be bigger than a nation and paid the price.

Lesson: - A team working on a project at any organisation might end up losing the most knowledgeable employee due to variety of reasons but that should not mean that they should lose sight of their objectives.

So, the biggest take away from the game for any professional is that first and foremost, one should not lose sight of the real objectives in the midst of hyperbole and panic. Additionally, one should never place an influential member of the organisation at such a high pedestal that the professional is not able to cope with his absence. Single minded focus towards the objectives of the job is paramount irrespective of the peripheral events.

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