Success is a Messi affair
Down to the wire, the game was ultimately decided by penalty shootout, and a new champion team was crowned. Argentina dethroned the defending champs with Messi cementing his place among football greats, if not as the GOAT, himself, bar none.
Indeed: O Jogo Bonito. No wonder it is called the beautiful game.
Watching Messi on the field these past weeks was an interesting mix of necessity and nostalgia. At 35 years old, this may possibly have been his final shot at the World Cup. Gone is the speed of his glory days in Barcelona. Alas, there is something about youth that self-discipline or conditioning can neither maintain nor replicate. A certain spring in your step that Father Time slowly steals away and goes unnoticed only it’s gone.
It’s a harsh reality all people, athletes, or otherwise, come to face at some point in our lives. When we’re young, we’re convinced that youth will last forever. That knees will never creek like the rusting hinges of aged doors, and that hangovers would naturally cure after a night’s rest. It is not so much that we are ignorant of the inevitable impacts of time. Rather, we simply leave—optimistically, and perhaps naively—time’s efficacies to the interminable list of morrow.
But not Messi. If we were to compare late-stage Messi’s gameplay with that of the early 2000s, we would notice a subtle difference. Though equally captivating and no less impressive, the speedster of yore is now, well, walking much, much more than before. Indeed, an analysis by The Athletic shows that Messi has walked more than any other player at this year’s World Cup—at an average five kilometers per game.
Messi may have slowed, but he is no less successful. Indeed, last Sunday may have very well been the peak of his already illustrious career.
The Argentina vs. France thriller, therefore, is not just a sporting tale for the books. The FIFA World Cup championship of 2022 should not only go down in history as the most watched finals game for the men’s soccer tournament ever; there is a much more important lesson here. A takeaway of relevance for all, and that is this: Sometimes, you need to take a step back.
You see, in this LinkedIn day and age, we have been conditioned to believe that the only way forward is to succeed and, concomitantly, that the only way to succeed is to move forward. That each and every day, every week, and every waking moment of our lives should be dedicated to the makings of a social media status. To find a home in the limelight where every move we make must, one way or another, lead to a success story to be flexed to all, liked by many, and bitterly ignored by most.
Today, it goes by the name of “grind” or culture, that is, the mentality that we have to work all day er’day to be of worth. Yet sometimes, what we need most is to slow down. Progress is not always visible to the naked eye, and success is not always measurable in terms of hustle or report cards. We forget that “progress” may very well come in the shape and form of taking a step back. A nap. A break. A conversation.
They say that life is not a marathon, but a sprint. Perhaps that’s only partially true. Last Sunday, Messi showed that life’s success can be with the strolls in between.
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