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The aftermath of Canada’s 2:1 quarter-final loss to England was gut-wrenching. As the final whistle blew, English players rushed the field to celebrate. Canadians dropped to their knees in disappointment.

When Your Best Fails You

Captain Christine Sinclair was in tears as she apologized to coach John Herdman following Canada’s exit from the Women’s World Cup.

Teenage defender Kadeisha Buchanan sobbed as she knelt on the field at B.C. Place Stadium.

“They gave their best. And our best just wasn’t good enough,” said Herdman.

You know what its like to give your best. You’ve led well, you’ve competed hard, you’ve stretched yourself beyond your own expectations but it wasn’t enough.

How do you find your way forward when your best fails you?

5 World Class Lessons in Resilience From Canada’s Soccer Stars

1. Refusing to quit against overwhelming odds is the seed of future wins.

England struck quickly in the 11th and 14th minutes. No team in Women’s World Cup history had ever come back to win from a 2-0 deficit in the knockout rounds.

It would have been easy to quit but Captain Sinclair rallied the team and scored her 155th international career goal before half sending the crowd into a delirium that one English player described as “frightening.” The Canadians gave themselves a chance to make history.

When your best isn’t good enough in the moment, it can become enough in a second half or second chance if you don’t quit.

2. Accept responsibility, don’t assign blame.

Herdman accepted responsibility for the second goal, a set piece that saw England’s Lucy Bronze take advantage of fullback Allysha Chapman’s lack of height. England captain Steph Houghton said later it was a match-up her team had targeted.

A good coach owns failed coaching, that’s what makes him a good coach.

Blame won’t help you recover; accepting responsibility does. Owning failure is the basis of a better future.

3. Win as a team and lose as a team.

When a reporter asked Herdman about the “girl who made the mistake tonight,” Herdman replied: “Which one? There was a few mistakes tonight,” he said.

No single player is the villain in a loss. The next game won’t be won because the guilty have been tried and found wanting. Today’s goat can be tomorrow’s hero and vice versa.

4. Remember that losing is the painful price of competing.

When scores are kept somebody’s going to lose in a big game. No individual or team wins every time. This Canadian team has won medals in previous CONCAF and Summer Olympic tournaments. Today wasn’t their day.

Champions love competing and winning. But champions are not fazed by losing, because they don’t allow losing to become a habit.

5. Mine the positives and find reason to be optimistic.

Herdman observed, “Our country got behind us, they’ve had a great time, great experience. and there’s going to be a new generation of women, players, coaches that have been motivated by what they’ve seen.”

“When you look at those youngsters, I think there’s a new DNA coming through. There’s a new breed that we’re bringing through.”

“Stick with us. We’ll be back and we’ll be fighting strong.”

APPLICATION: Which lesson do you need most now? Please leave a comment below.

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Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 44 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vincent and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love inspiring people through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, and reading. I'm a fan of the Double E, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers


  • Carole Schlachta says:

    I watched the soccer and I would correct one statement (Sinclair strapped the team to her back…..)
    As far as I am concerned Herdman tied the straps and TIGHT. I saw many an interview with him and he never neglected to speak about Sinclair and how she is leading the team and how she nails them out, etc., etc.
    He owed each if the girls equal recognition. They played as well as they could. Had he spread the praise then we would have seen them win as a team.
    I look forward to the next cup and a new coach who will teach them how to be team players.
    Girls you did everything you could and we are proud of all of you. Thank you

  • CD Mayo says:

    Point number three is my favorite and speaks to me the most. Refusing to quit against overwhelming odds, even of my own making, has been a life anthem. God has provided both the determination and the continual salvation. It is like a lesson on the high wire that follows with a net at just the right moment. God is good!

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