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World Cup Week Two: 3 ways keepers are like executives
Delaney Turner 270002T14M firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  dashboards scorecards spss cognos world_cup business_analytics
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The Globe and Mail's John Doyle had a great column today about keepers. If you've ever played the position, you know it can be a uniquely terrifying experience. And if you saw any of the headlines following Robert Green's disastrous fumble (my favorite was "Hand of Clod"), you'll know there's much more than the score riding on the outcome. I've been playing the position for various teams for the past five years, so I found Doyle's description particularly apt:
It’s like hockey, only worse. In a sport wherein a 0-0 draw can salvage a point and mean salvation, or a single goal can mean disaster, the goalkeeper is among the most richly symbolic figures in the culture of soccer countries. He’s the last defender, in a role that represents the awfulness of life in a nutshell – anyone can go from hero to villain in seconds. Alienated, under pressure and safe-keeper of more than a goalmouth, the keeper is feared, exalted, sometimes despised and always alone.
The column also got me thinking that the position would probably be a great training ground for the C-suite. Sure, there's the obvious - many executives are also "feared, exalted, despised and alone." But there's more than that. For example:
Doyle also highlighted a literary connection between keepers and writers, which I also appreciated:
The soccer keeper has also been a figure from which writers extrapolate meaning. Camus, a Nobel Prize winner, wrote (for France Football magazine) “All I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe to football.” Austrian writer Peter Handke wrote perhaps the definitive serious work of fiction - "The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty," which was filmed in 1971 by Wim Wenders. Both book and movie use the soccer goalie as the basis for analyzing contemporary human alienation. A goalkeeper is sent off during a game for committing a foul. Then he commits murder but barely attempts to evade the police.
At one key moment he watches a game and explains the terrible dilemma that faces a goalkeeper at the moment of a penalty kick. The impossibility of anticipating the kicker’s action. The futility of diving to the left or right and guessing the direction of the ball. This, it seems, is the wretchedness of life encapsulated.
What about you? Do you see life lessons in the 18-yard box? Parallels between the c-suite and the pitch? Drop me a line or let me know on Twitter.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)