Learning From This Week’s Sports History Moment

If you missed the quarterfinal soccer match in the 2011 Women’s World Cup Sunday night, you missed history in the making!  The USA played against Brazil.  It was an epic battle, physically and emotionally draining for both teams.  There were several controversial calls and emotions ran high.  Brazil took a 2-1 lead in the extra 30 minutes of the game.  On the verge of their earliest World Cup exit ever, the U.S. women’s national team needed a miracle to fight off elimination.

Down to their final minute (minute 122), Abby Wambach tied the score with a magnificent, leaping header, the deepest into a World Cup game a goal has ever been scored.  (Click here to see her score the goal).  It is the first time in Women’s World Cup history that a team came back to win after falling behind in extra time, and only the fourth time overall. Italy (1970 semifinals), Germany (1982 semifinals) and Sweden (1994 quarterfinals) did it in the men’s World Cup. Wambach’s unbelievable header tied the game and sent it to a shootout. The U.S. won 5-3 in penalty kicks to advance to the semifinals.

What does this incredible match have to do with the transportation industry?  For me, it was a powerful lesson on the importance of keeping one’s focus.  As the old adage goes, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”.   The USA team persevered despite the poor officiating; the women managed their emotions in the face of what could have very well been a devastating loss for the United States.  Instead, the team rallied together, stayed focus, and miraculously clawed its way back to victory.

Previously, I wrote a brief article on the state of our industry based on market trends, economic news, trends in the trucking industry including some of its legislative challenges.  Wow; was it depressing.  Mind you, every word was true.  There is ample reason to be alerted and concerned.  However, I was struck by this idea:  “Where do we put our focus?”

That history-making soccer game was much like our industry.  There were long periods of discouragement, outrage over unfair calls, treachery, and misjudgment.  But, ultimately, at least for the U.S. players, there was joy, exultation, victory and vindication.  In the end, resilience, effort and focus overcame every manner of challenge laid before them and produced one of the greatest endings to a game in sports history.

Our nation, its businesses and its people have been weathering a long, tough match against a formidable opponent-our economy.   And, the game is definitely going into overtime.  But now is not the time to rest.  Just like the U.S. women’s soccer team, we must be relentless in our efforts to come out on top.  Rather than wallow in the self-pity of injustice or hardship, we continue to address challenges in our industry with laser-like focus so we can stay on top of the game.  Just like our amazing women’s soccer team, we’re in it to win it!