I wasn’t really on vacation. It’s those trips to the Chicago office with action-packed days of meetings simultaneous with getting a magazine done. Have to keep in mind what my real job is.

Those who follow me know that I am not only a soccer fanatic but an experienced referee. So it should come as no surprise that I watched the Women’s World Cup with great interest. The contests were all fantastic. The women played with spirit, heart and personality. I think I’m in love with Sawa of Japan. She plays with tremendous joy. What a winning smile. And she’s great. Think about living your life, doing your job with that dedication, skill and joy. Why, people might actually want to be around you!

There is much to learn from that final game. In case you’ve been in a cave (for example, I even know who won The Open Championship-congratulations Darren-and even that the Reds won, so …), the US team dominated the Japan team early. But didn’t score. It did score late in the game. But Japan scored later. Tie. The US scored in the extra time (they play 30 minutes additional). Japan scored later. Japan won on kicks from the penalty mark.

So, the lesson? If you start  with much intensity and do not score early, you lose some energy and enthusiasm. Soccer (and business and life) is a game of endurance and stamina. The US team played very well for a long time. But then the players became tired. When you are tired, you start to make bad decisions. You lose focus. You let the other team, if they still have energy, back into the game.

You saw that three times in the match. At the end of regulation time. At the end of added time. During the kicks (where the US missed the first three-a sure sign of fatigue leading to lack of concentration).

Don’t let that happen to you. Watch your nutrition. Exercise. Keep your energy up. Set a pace that will last you the entire game. Be there at the end with concentration and energy when your opponent is tired.

And smile. Sawa’s smile will be forever engraved in my memory. What joy. Man, wish I could be that way!

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