I recently had a conversation with a coach who admitted that when he first read my book ‘Soccer Tough’ he hadn’t bought into it. He confided in me that he felt some of the stories of soccer players included in the book weren’t great examples of success. Thankfully he has now changed his mind because he has reinterpreted his definition of success . This is how I see success.
To me success isn’t necessarily about winning gold medals or 100 international caps. Success is a process rather than an outcome. Quite simply it’s about striving to be the very best you can be and then, at the end of that journey of discovery, seeing where you’ve ended up.
For most footballers the destination will be playing for a Sunday league team or a club at the higher echelons of the non league pyramid. For a few it will be a career in league football. For the elite it will be playing in the Premiership, La Liga or Serie A and maybe even the Champions’ League.
Success isn’t reserved for those who play at the top end of the game. In fact, some of those elite players are failures in my opinion. Some have talent in abundance, yet they fail to feed their natural ability with an appropriate growth mindset. They are content picking up a million pounds a year but are scared to try new things to improve their game. They are engulfed by fear.
In contrast, some of the non league players I’ve worked with over the years are brilliantly successful. They don’t have the luxury of being super talented. They have to work hard and seek no stone left unturned to be the very best they can be. They love the process of improvement, and whilst they will never grace a Champions’ League pitch, they play with pride and passion no matter what. They are engulfed by freedom.
The best two soccer players on the planet – Lionel Messi and Ronaldo – are successful. They have that in-built ability for the game and they continue to work as hard, if not harder than everyone else, to maintain and improve their form.
Your level is not an indication of success. Trophies are not indicative of success. Success runs deeper and is more robust than the extrinsic nonsense that surrounds the game. You can all be successful. Enjoy the journey!