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7-1!! How Did Germany Do It?

By Shlomo  Maital


Thomas Muller

OK,  World Cup soccer (football) fans!  How did Germany win 7-1 over a strong Brazilian team?   Ask veteran sportswriter George Vecsey, who for decades has given us the inside story of what really goes on in baseball, and other sports.

    It starts with failure. Great achievement OFTEN, perhaps even always, starts with some sort of failure. The German football team failed to advance beyond the group stage of the European championship – a huge trauma.  This generated a development plan.  In 366 districts of Germany, youngsters were screened, examined and picked for further training.  The system produced an outstanding wave of players now in their mid-20s.   One of them is Thomas Muller, the creative star who seems to be everywhere, and who combines the two key elements of creativity:  discovery (being in unexpected surprising places, figuring out just WHERE to be), and delivery, the ability to convert chances into goals, like his amazing goal scored from a volley, against Brazil, after a corner kick reached his right foot.

   Want to be a world champion?  Find talent (including your own).  Develop it patiently.  Be focused.  Show your people the vision.  And work very very very hard.  Vecsey quotes British star Gary Lineker,  “football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

    Let’s learn from them.  Not everyone is thrilled by the 7-1 triumph.  But all of us can learn from it, about how creativity and discipline can unite to achieve true greatness.           

What I Learned from Mikaela: It’s the Journey, Not the Destination

By Shlomo   Maital 


  Mikaela Shiffrin is 18 years old, the youngest American skier to be a World Cup champion.  She lives in Colorado.   She could win medals at the Sochi Olympics.  According to the New York Times sportswriter Bill Pennington, Mikaela has an unusual life plan, one we can all learn from.

   “I will want to win,” she said. “But the result of the race will not motivate me. I can honestly say that I am motivated by improvement, not results.  That’s a core principle. 

    Her parents (her dad is an anesthetist, her mom  and dad were competitive skiers in college) recount that in Vail, Colorado, they once invited Mikaela, then very young, to come ski in the ‘back bowls’.  But Mikaela declined.  “No. I want to stay on the racecourse and train.  I’m working on my pole plants.  I want to get better every day.”

     Here is what I personally learned from Mikaela.  I want to be an excellent educator, teaching innovation at a high level.  But I should focus on the journey, not on the destination.  Each course I teach, each workshop I deliver for managers, I need to ask, how can I do this better? How can I deepen the experience of my students, and give them useful take home tools?  And at the end of each course, I need to evaluate the ‘gradient’ or ‘slope’ – did I improve? Or get worse? 

    If you come to focus on the process, on the journey and not solely on the result, and if you can create a positive learning gradient, improving all the time, ultimately you will achieve excellence.  And you will enjoy life while doing so.  Because each improvement, each notch on the ‘learning slope’ becomes a tangible achievement.  You don’t need to wait a decade for Carnegie Hall. 

     Remember that tired joke? “ How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Practice.” 

      How about, instead…. “ How do you get to Carnegie Hall?   Just keep improving, every day…   and in every way.  And enjoy!” 

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital