David slays Goliath – Life lessons from Germany’s shock exit from the World Cup

David slays Goliath Life lessons from Germanys shock exit from the World Cup

David was the underdog. He wasn’t expected to even live upto a battle with the mighty Goliath. But live he did – much to the shock and anguish of Goliath’s fans.

South Korea’s historic win over the mighty German juggernaut was totally unexpected; yet the momentous victory highlighted some crucial lessons to the Germans and legions of disbelieving football fans at large.

Here is my take on what we can learn from the Koreans humbling the Germans on the biggest football stage in the world:

  1. Size does not matter: One look at the German team and you know that these guys are built to last. (like their cars). Almost all of them are strapping men with a physique that is powerful and intimidating. The Koreans on the other hand form a diminutive sight, all of them shorter and lighter than their German counterparts. Yet what we saw today on the field was an inspirational fight by the smaller, cockier team, who took on the muscular Germans and saw them through the crucial 90 minutes of play.

Life lesson 1 – Dont get intimidated by the opposition however strong/powerful/impactful they may be.

  1. Reputations dont matter: Just so you don’t miss the irony – a 4 time world champion gets soundly defeated by a team that is ranked 57th in the world. Had the Koreans been in awe of their opponents, the German team would have steam-rollered them into submission. After all, they are the World Champions, current and past with an arsenal boasting of star players like Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and the charismatic goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

 But the doughty Koreans didn’t care about their opponents’ reputation. They systematically played to a plan, which basically was to thwart the forward and mid-field attacks with a stubborn and tenacious defence that the Germans found impossible to penetrate.

Life lesson 2 Dont worry about your rivals reputation play to your strengths.

  1. Never say die: At no point in time did the Koreans give up the match,. They ran endless sprints, tackled the beefy Germans with spirit and verve and generally made a nuisance of themselves.

This made the German team sweat bucket loads, not just because they weren’t winning , but because the Koreans were looking like they might actually win ! And win they did – in style. Their omnipresent defence and a gutsy young goalkeeper thwarted numerous attempts at the goal – and there were quite a few chances that Germany missed.

In the end, it was not the mighty warriors who won. The minnows were the ones who cruised to a hard-won victory. Not that it came early. The first goal was in the 91st minute and the second goal was slotted in during the 95th minute. A series of last gasp goals finally breached the usually impregnable Neuer Gate.

Life lesson 3 Never give up. Persistence pays rich dividends, no matter how late it may be.

4. Self belief is crucial : If there was one quality which separated the two teams, it was this. The Germans despite their track record just didn’t seem to be convinced that they would win. Their body language was awry. As the game progressed and gradually slipped out of their hands, there was no rallying around by the team, no call for urgent teamwork.

 Instead there were repeated visuals of the German players grimacing in disgust and disappointment at their shots missing the mark. By contrast the wiry Koreans gave it everything they got – and some more. They were filled with a purpose, a shining self belief that sustained them through till the end.

Life lesson 4 Believe in yourself because you will win.

5. Celebrate your victories, however insignificant: At the end of the match, the Koreans celebrated as though they had won the World Cup. Never mind that they bowed out of the cup due to their overall group standing. What was heartening about their heroic efforts and the end was the fact that the Korean team lived their dream and celebrated their success thereafter. A success that was truly theirs to deserve.

 The players were ecstatic that they had defeated the defending champions!  The tired Koreans were overjoyed at winning and it showed on their faces and their body language as they knelt in supplication on the field. It didn’t matter that they were going home. They had got the better of their superior rivals and now was the time to celebrate.

Life lesson 5 Celebrate your successes – thats what makes Life delicious.

So, the beautiful game that enthrals also has an uncanny ability to reflect truisms that stem from our own beliefs and character. What you are as a team, you display in your game.

Then again, what is Life if not, the ultimate game?


picture credit : totalsportek.com

5 Reasons why you must Stand up for your Rights

Recently I had booked a flight ticket to Kolkata. A few days prior to the flight, I received a message from the airline that the flight had been cancelled due to “operational” reasons. The message upset me as I had important work to be finished at that time and my schedule had been put in disarray. I called up the airline and complained, which they acknowledged by rescheduling my departure on the same flight the next day. However, when I told them that I needed the return trip to be rescheduled as well, they refused to consider, stating that the same was not due to any flight cancellation and was hence untenable.

I decided to escalate the matter with the airline and wrote to their appellate authority listed on their website. I got a prompt reply from them stating that they were willing to “adjust” Rs.2000 since I had been greatly inconvenienced. I refused that offer and stated that I was willing to bear only half the charges levied for the rescheduling. They finally responded stating that they had waived the entire rescheduling charges.

The above incident got me thinking.

We live frenetic lives, multi tasking every step of the day. Our days are filled with countless things to do and technology – that great enabler ensures that we also need to manage our digital lives, replying to whatsapp, checking mails and updating our social lives online. This relentless pressure to do things takes a toll on us and we then always look for the easiest way out of any situation. Coupled with this pressure is also the way technology has arrayed our lives to make it appear that all good things are only a click away. Any effort which more than a tap of our fingers, is not worth our time.

So, when a difficult situation occurs  that throws a spanner in the works, our minds are conditioned to search the easiest way out. Look for the quick fix or even better just ignore the issue, hoping it will go away. Our devious mind also rationalises our inertia by suggesting that the effort is not worth our time. This thought process is actually detrimental to our interests.

My recent experience with the airline is only one example of how if we raise our concerns and our voice against unjust actions, it does reap dividends. To my mind, following is the rationale why we MUST raise our voices/objections/difference of opinion:

To redress a wrong

This is the crux of the matter. We need to ensure our voice is heard so that the unjust action is set right. A wrong if undetected, continues to fester and its impact starts widening in ever increasing circles of inequity and injustice. This is the reason why corrupt politicians think they will never get caught or a business tycoon brazens it out in the UK, while his business flounders back home. Unless the wrong is set right, unscrupulous persons/governments will continue to flourish with impunity, simply because they know that no one is looking to fix the issue.

To highlight the issue

When an action has an unpleasant or unfavourable impact on us and we protest about it, the matter gets noticed. With social media being on 24 X7, our voice of dissent has the ability to reach people (much as this post is doing) and to highlight the unfair. A politician’s wayward son being arrested for his arrogance and wilful violence unleashed on an unsuspecting bystander, an unscrupulous businessman usurping crores of tax payer’s money or a movie being pilloried for a non-existent cause; all such incidents come to the attention of the people and the powers that be. This causes the issue to reach a large number of people – in digital parlance it makes the issue “go viral”.

To set an example

This is an offshoot of the above point. Any wrong or injustice meted out,  needs to be held up to public scrutiny so that others may not suffer the misfortunes that one has already undergone.  Standing up for one’s rights helps others to muster courage to talk about their woes, either similar or in completely different spheres. The recent outpouring against sexual abuse (#Me too) in Hollywood being a case in point.

To benefit others

It is not only the self that one helps when we speak out against something or take a stand. Our voice of dissent is a call to an organisation/government/society  to take note of the same so that others do not suffer a similar fate. When we take a stand, we inspire and pave the way for many others to similarly take up the cudgels on issues of importance to us and society as a whole. Social injustice, government apathy, corporate avarice are just some of the issues that can get noticed and do get rectified in due course of time.


At the end of it all, you feel satisfied that your voice has been heard and your complaint addressed. This helps you feel better about yourself and raises your self confidence to tackle issues or organisations that are obviously bigger than you.

The next time you are confronted with a situation where you are being exploited, take a pause to reflect and raise your voice. Don’t look at sidestepping the issue, even if it means temporary inconvenience to yourself. Make the time to stand up for yourself and your right to fair standards of behaviour.

Many a times you may fail in your quest and the effort may not seem worth it. But there will be that one time when your voice will be heard. Wait for that moment. Pursue the matter till you get to that moment. You will eventually succeed. That’s what will make your stance worth it.