Learning from Devastating Defeat
In April this year the sports world witnessed one of the great comebacks in sports.
Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest golfer of all time, or at the very least up there on par with Jack Nicklaus, won another major.
Golf is a little like tennis in that throughout the year there are four ‘Majors’. While there are numerous events (about one a week) through the regular year, the majors are really the ones the players want to win.
They are full of history, prestige and a truckload of money. For instance the winner of The Masters this year took home a trickle over US$2 million.
And it just so happened that winner was Tiger Woods.
Now this was Tiger’s 15th Major in his career that’s now spanned 23 years. His first major win was the Masters all the way back in 1997. He would then go on to win majors in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
But from there things were up and down for years as he battled injury, poor form, personal issues and an up and down set of results with no major wins.
Then in 2014 after repeated back injuries, Woods got surgery. This was supposed to fix his injuries and give him a chance to return to form. It didn’t.
He would then undergo more back surgery in 2015 and 2016 trying to fix what was clearly a potentially career-ending injury. After his fourth back surgery his world ranking had dropped to 1,199th. That’s not far from my ranking (if I had one).
It’s believed at one point during his recovery periods he needed assistance just to get out of bed. And there was a widely held belief that Woods would never return to the pinnacle of golf, perhaps never even play again.
But recovery went well. And he rebuilt his swing to counter for the fact that he simply couldn’t’ move biomechanically like he used to.
And then after a series of decent performances he stepped up in April this year at the Masters, and delivered a masterclass to the young guns of golf today on how the old Tiger still had a few tricks up his sleeve.
It’s widely regarded now as one of the greatest comebacks in sport.
That is until this week during a couple of Champions League football semi-finals.
On Tuesday night UK time, Liverpool Football Club beat Barcelona Football Club 4-0 at Anfield Stadium.
However there’s a little more to this than you might think.
A week earlier Barcelona had beat Liverpool 3-0 in Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie. This Barcelona team is perhaps the greatest team in the world, with perhaps the greatest football player of all time, Lionel Messi.
All they had to do was just stop Liverpool from scoring four goals in the second leg at Anfield. Just one goal from Barcelona away would have been enough. Keeping Liverpool to two goals would have been enough.
But Liverpool banged in four goals to nil sending Barcelona out of the Champions League. The significance can’t be underplayed.
It was the greatest ever semi-final comeback in the history of the competition. Arguably one of the greatest ever comebacks in football.
That is until last night…
The pundits suggested we may never see a game, a comeback like that again for a long time. Well depends if you count a day as a long time.
You see on Wednesday night UK time (just a few hours ago), Tottenham Hotspurs FC played Ajax FC in Amsterdam (Ajax’s home ground).
A week earlier Ajax had beaten Tottenham in London by 0-1. That away goal is crucial in Champions League football.
Then in Amsterdam Ajax was quick off the mark sending another two goals into the back of the net. The game at half time was Ajax 2, Tottenham 0. Add in the goal from the first leg and Ajax were actually 3-0 up on aggregate.
There was NO WAY Tottenham was going to win this.
Then Tottenham scored early in the second half. Then just a few minutes later, they scored again. And then the time began to run down. The game was set to run 95 minutes including time on.
And with seconds to go, in the 96th minute Tottenham scored again to level the tie on aggregate 3-3. But because Tottenham scored more away goals, they proceed to the Champions League final to face Liverpool.
It now is arguably an even greater comeback than the Liverpool game.
You can take a lot away from acts of sporting greatness
Now you might not give a stuff about golf or football. But you can take a lot away from these acts of sporting greatness.
There’s something about those that succeed at the highest level of sports. A mentality that the average person typically doesn’t have. Elite athletes have an innate belief in their abilities and a will to never give up.
When the chips are down, they seemingly find a way to win. It’s like they have superhuman abilities that gets them to the highest pinnacle.
But they’re human. There’s nothing different about them. What is different is they have a combination of physical training and mental capacity to do things that average people would consider to be ‘superhuman’.
They combine years of experience, training, study of the game with that innate belief and conviction that there is no one better than them if they’re at their best on any given day. That’s because they’re always prepared, always ready, always able to flick the switch to get into ‘game mode’.
It’s also why you can find plenty of examples of elite level athletes that go on after sports to succeed in business. They roll over similar skills from sports to the business world.
And as investors you can learn a thing or two from these events, even if you don’t particularly like sports. Training, studying the game, learning from success and importantly (perhaps more importantly) from failure, preparation and always being ready to flick into game mode.
Those are all attributes of an elite level investor. No one is ever perfect. And it’s in moments of imperfection that you learn what to do when the opportunity rolls around again to deliver perfection.
Sometimes you have to lose to know how to win. And when you’re investing in markets it’s a lesson to learn hopefully early on. When you do, you can figure out, reverse engineer your decision making to understand what went wrong.
Maybe the analysis was off the mark, maybe you were too early on your call, maybe you didn’t risk enough for the reward you could have taken out. Or maybe you risked too much.
Always remember your processes and learn from them
Whatever happens you should always remember your processes and learn from them. While we know that Liverpool and Tottenham achieved two of the greatest comebacks in football history, we also know that Barcelona and Ajax suffered two of the worst defeats ever in football.
There’s always two sides to a game. We suspect that Liverpool and Tottenham will revel in their success. But we think greater lessons will come for the players at Barcelona and Ajax from gut-wrenching defeat.
Like them, learn from the defeat, because opportunity will come around again. And next time you’ll know what it’s like to lose badly, and you won’t make the same mistakes again.
Editor, Secret Crypto Network