Some of the most inspiring commentary I’ve heard in some time was spoken recently during a game that I wouldn’t have cared to watch in the past. But I am one of the millions who became full-fledged bandwagon fans of the USA national soccer team.
It’s hard to live in my house and not pick up a little soccer enthusiasm through osmosis. In the past year, the jerseys in my sons’ closets shifted from NFL teams to FC Barcelona and Man U.
Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar became household names in our home. FIFA replaced Madden on their xBox.
Watching the ESPN series on the building and training of the USA team familiarized me with the players. And the saturation marketing was highly effective.
(For the record, my younger son actually picked Germany to win it all before the World Cup began…probably just to make his brother mad.)
It was in the USA’s knockout round game against a heavily-favored Belgium team that the words of an announcer struck a nerve. In this game, Tim Howard did everything but wear a cape as he set a record for stopping shots in a World Cup game.
Our overmatched team gutted it out for over 90 minutes for a 0-0 tie. (Okay, nil-nil purists.) And I will fully admit that my finding a 0-0 game to be entertaining still mystifies me a little.
After an excruciating missed opportunity for the USA to win in regulation, the dam finally broke. Belgium scored in overtime, and the USA team was on its heels.
Within a few minutes, a second goal was scored, and all rational people knew the game was over.
But someone forgot to tell the USA team.
They kept their heads up and pushed the attack. When a 19-year-old, touching the ball for the first time in his first World Cup game, then scored, the announcer exclaimed, “This USA team just doesn’t know when it’s beat, does it?!?”
(I may have begun the “I Believe That We Will Win” chant.)
The following 10 minutes were insanely suspenseful. And while the game didn’t turn out as I’d hoped, that announcer’s words rang in my ears for days.
A dejected son questioned why I later said it was the most motivating game I’d seen in years.
I told him that we may feel down about losing, but cannot feel down about the effort. Win or lose, there’s nobleness when a person or team gives absolutely everything they have in pursuit of their goals.
How noble will your efforts be this week?
The growth in our area over the past decade necessitated the widening of one of the highways that intersects our town.
With that widening, several establishments lost portions of their parking lots, and some businesses closed. One of these was a decades-old gas station.
The building remained empty for over three years. I figured it would eventually be razed or that the city would use it as a storage facility.
And while it is located at an intersection I cross several times each week, I can honestly say I haven’t noticed or considered that building in…well, forever.
I smiled last week as I saw that someone had opened a new business in that old building. From the highway, I could make out what appeared to be a jersey…or maybe it was a jacket… in the large window.
My younger son hoped it was a new soccer store (naturally). My wife said it might be an embroidery shop. My older son said he didn’t care.
There was one car in the parking lot, and the store appeared to be open. I slowed as much as I could without creating a hazard as we crossed the intersection, trying to read the small sign on the building.
None of us could decipher what the sign said. And there was no clue, besides the hanging jersey, as to what this place actually does or sells.
I fought off the urge to slam on the brakes and make a U-turn. I wanted to walk into that building and congratulate whoever opened up that new business.
I’d also want to know if they were planning their going-out-of-business sale, yet.
I believe these folks have fallen into the trap of thinking that high traffic guarantees high awareness. I’m sure they look through their windows and imagine that the thousands of folks driving by each day are aware of what they offer.
But they aren’t. They’re preoccupied driving to and fro and living their lives.
If the owners of that new business aren’t grabbing their attention and clearly communicating who they are and what they do, they’ll remain a nonentity. They will remain an easily ignored part of commuters’ daily backdrop.
The same is true for us, regardless of whether we’re the old or new kids on the block.
We should never assume that shoppers somehow know (or remember) what we offer - or are paying much attention to us at all.
They do not - and are not.
Set out to address those facts every day.