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Business as a Midfielder

The sports analogy in the Board room seems a tale as old as time – growing up in the U.S. the sports always seemed to be baseball or football, sometimes golf. I grew up playing, breathing and sleeping soccer (though my love of golf is probably a close second). We watch soccer nearly three times a week in our household and even though my husband loves sending me those amazing Leeds United highlights, nothing compares to sitting down and watching the full match. 

There’s something incredible about watching the match with 80+ minutes of strategic passes, missing shots and incredible tackles (looking at you, Kalvin). The other 10 minutes of the game are those amazing winning goals and the celebrations that follow. The hard work in a game that was matched by equally hard work at practices are what elevate the goals to a special place each game – hence, why I love the full match and not just the highlights. 

What does this have to business? Growing up playing a variety of positions, I found myself most often in the midfielder position. I would pivot between facilitating the forward movement of the team and defending counterattacks at any given time. If you’ve played midfield, you know that you’re the workhorse and likely the one who finished 10 miles of running in just one game. However, you also know the power of communication and collaboration because in this role, you’re always looking to see who needs support and finding support around you. 

As a midfielder in business, it’s very similar – which is likely why I landed in operations & project management – and in this midfielder like business role, you’re working to fortify the teammates and clients you work closely with on a daily basis. The winning shots still come but you’re not the one taking them, instead, you’re facilitating the strategic passes that set up the forwards for the winning shot. In the end, the team is winning and you’re playing a key role and those 38 hours of a 40-hour week when your head is down and your putting in the miles, make the last 2 hours that much sweeter.

Just a small reminder for yourself today as you lead your business: the highlight reels are what people love to share but the 80 out of 90 minutes of real, hard work are what make those winning goals actually happen. Keep going! Today may be all strategic passes or even missed shots, but don’t forget that those get you to that winning goal in the next viral highlight of the week. Don’t live in the highlights, lead in every moment!

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About the Author: Marie Stacks (President of Boost Midwest) strives to lead teams through the challenge of change onward to the thrill of success. With a decade of experience in project management, systems integration and process improvement, she has provided companies both small and corporate level with expertise on how to rock the boat without tipping it over. It takes unique skills to be able to lead through change, but when you succeed in doing so, the reward is always greater than the risk.

PS – Happy Promotion to the very best Football team landing back in the Premier League - Leeds United!


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