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I, like many others, got sucked into the spirit of this year’s Fifa World Cup (I think that’s what it is…being sucked into the spirit of a thing doesn’t mean you know all that much about it, LOL). I sat in an ale house watching the last half or so of the USA women’s team versus Japan in rapt fascination just like millions of others around the world. It doesn’t escape me that the country of Japan, the Cinderella story in this soccer tournament and the site of many recent tragedies, really needed a morale boost and something to celebrate such as this. However, today’s Monday Meditation is focused on the other team, the one that was expected to win long before yesterday.

The one thing that the commentators kept going back to was the fact that the USA had so many missed opportunities to put this game away. I saw a few of them myself: The Japanese goal after Solo was injured to tie the game could have been stopped; they could have made the penalty kick when a Japanese player was red carded late in the extra minutes; if the Japanese goalie’s foot hadn’t been able to get to the initial penalty kick that she launched herself well away from; that wildly off base missed kick by the USA during the penalty kicks. It could be argued that the US beat themselves; the Japanese just hung around long enough to take advantage of their openings.

I don’t know how intensive the interview process is after a World Cup match, what kind of questions are asked, but I imagine the US women’s team stars were asked several times about many of those missed opportunities. “What happened?” they will be asked, if by no one but themselves. It was their match to win or lose. But what I’ve learned from watching players in other sports–football, basketball, tennis, etc.–is that, while upset, most players don’t dwell on the missed opportunities, neither during the game nor after. Once an opportunity is gone, it’s gone; it’s time to focus on the next opportunity.

There have been many times in life when the game has been mine to lose, and I’ve lost–big time. Some championship matches are included in the number. I had more than enough opportunities that I could have taken advantage off and managed to miss. When you head back to the showers and back home without the W, it’s not a time to dwell negatively on the missed opportunities; it’s a time to decide how to move forward. You should be able to see how you could have taken advantage of those opportunities and why you missed them so you can seize them the next time. But your focus, even in looking back, should be on how to incorporate what you learned going forward.

Most teams who end without the championship, whether they lose in the playoffs or the final matchup, immediately state focusing on and planning for next season: a coach may be replaced; players may be traded or offered more money to stay; they strategize for the upcoming draft. They realize that dwelling on missed opportunities and moping isn’t going to help them the next time around.

So, this Monday, I want you to think about yourself. What missed opportunities are you still harping on about, all the while missing new opportunities? Instead of focusing on what you didn’t get right in the past, how can you sharpen your focus and hone your skills so that you don’t miss the next opportunity? It’s much better to get back in position and try again than to stand still in defeat alongside Coulda, Woulda, and Shoulda.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comment section or email lme at 2blu2btru4u@gmail.com.