As a Belgium-based speaker, I was in front my TV set (like pretty much everyone else in the country) for the Belgium-Japan soccer match that took place on July 2nd, 2018 for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. This match was nothing short of epic. But what hit me after the match is the lessons we can learn from it and apply to make our businesses succeed. Here they are.

1. You May Be The Favorite: Shit Happens

Japan scores the first goal.

You might be the favorite, the biggest name in the game, the best in town, the one everybody bets on, it doesn’t matter.

As good or prepared or ready you are: shit happens. Be ready to deal with. Because it’s a matter of when, not if.

2. Outsiders Can Bite You Really Hard

Belgium’s defense is way too indulgent; Japan scores its second goal.

You just can’t close your eyes on your weaknesses or pretend everything’s is going to be fine. It won’t.

When your opponent knows where to push to win, he has to do it – this is strategy 101. And because you know it too, you have to fix your shortcomings (unless you like losing, of course).

3. Work ≠ Results

Hazard fails to score despite a beautiful shot.

Being busy and being efficient are 2 completely different things. Not to say that Hazard was not efficient – he just had bad luck on this one.

But just being busy doesn’t get you any closer to your goal. All the minutia and bad luck don’t matter in the end. Focus on what matters and bring value.

4. Have Faith In Your Skills And Experience

Deep down, Belgians knew they still could win.

Even after Japan scored its second goal, captain Eden Hazard still encouraged the Belgian team not to let go and try again, because he knew they had the resources to do so.

When everything goes wrong, keep pushing. Persevere. Remember how your past experiences and skills helped you win. And keep the faith that those skills can make you win this time, too.

5. Accept A Little Help… Or Luck

Vertonghen scores the first goal for Belgium with a little help from luck.

It can’t all go wrong all the time, now can it? I guess Vertonghen didn’t expect to score this goal, but he did. This was the turning point in the match since Belgians were now back in the game, both score-wise and mentally.

When help or luck knocks at your door, be grateful and accept it. We all need a little nudge forward from time to time. So accept help and move on. It might just be what you needed to get back on track and succeed.

6. Bring Something Fresh To The Game

After much observation and thought, coach Roberto Martinez made 2 substitutions: Fellaini and Chadli were sent to play. A wise move: both scored against Japan.

When you need to change, don’t use the same old tactics. Don’t persist. You’ll get the exact same results – which is not desirable when you’re in danger.

Don’t try to be right, try to be smart. Bring something new to the table, something fresh. Changing your perspective and acting differently is the only way to get different (and hopefully better) results.

7. Analyse The Context And Act Quickly

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois looks around and passes the ball to the best-positioned player in a split second. This led to the third Belgian goal.

You just can’t do random things and expect them to work just like magic. Analyse the situation, make an educated guess and act quickly.

The context is changing rapidly, and you need to be able to detect and take every occasion that shows up. It just might be the difference that will put you ahead of the competition.

8. Stay Focused On The Goal

Courtois, De Bruyne, Meunier, Lukaku, and Chadli stayed focused to score the third Belgian goal of victory.

Those 5 players all worked to send this ball in Japan’s goal net. And they did it while keeping their cool and staying focused on the goal (literally).

If you spend too much time whining about the past or the present, you can’t act to build your future. So focus on the goal like your life depends on it. There is only now; all the rest is noise.

9. It’s Not Done Until You’re Done

Belgium scored its third goal 30 seconds before the match ended.

Until your deadline is over, your budget is over, or – sorry for the heavy thought – your time on this Earth is over, it’s simply not done yet. Stop complaining and get back to work. Enough said.

10. Work For The Greater Good

Belgium and Japan both worked for a greater good: playing an enjoyable and breath-taking soccer game.

The real winner of this match is not Belgium; it’s the world of soccer. Japan played a strong, beautiful match. Belgium came back from death. And there were almost no fouls. The match was very enjoyable.

Of course, the teams played to win. But they showed their love and passion for the game. They played with their feet and hearts because it’s the right thing to do. The only thing to do.

Working for the greater good gives you the strength to surpass yourself. And in any case, it gives you confidence that what you do actually matters. In a sense, the goal is not the goal. The greater good is the goal and it makes the hustle worth it.