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How to be more resilient: Learning from Eusébio


The passing of footballing hero Eusebio not long ago has compelled sports psychology expert Joao Bocas to analyse his abilities off (as well as on) the pitch. 

Recently, footballing legend Eusébio passed away, but he left a rich repertoire of memories for football fans and society at large. He was not only a national icon, he was admired all over the world. A unique gifted footballer that left a myriad of moments for us to enjoy and remember.

He was admired by opposing teams, foreign governments, opposition governments and supporters from other teams. This tells you a lot about the person, of his character and humanity. It shined through and made him an adorable human being. In professional sport, talent is part of the formula to success and I believe that many sportsmen and sportswomen still don’t understand that. But there are other vital ingredients to add to the secret formula.

Eusébio was not only one of a kind in footballing skills, he was one of a kind in interpersonal skills. A great team player, always mindful of others including the 'enemies' - the opposing teams. If you are a sportsman, a businessman or a student you can learn from Eusébio about how to have the right mindset, the right attitude and personality to make a success of yourself by becoming more resilient.

"Being resilient is not a matter of wish, studying or developing skills, it's a long-term commitment to the self that will in turn enable you to reap the rewards."

Tennis legend Boris Becker is now the coach of Novak Djokovic, and recently he asserted in an interview that “it’s all about having the right mindset, attitude and personality”. These are the crucial factors that will enhance your personal resilience and lead to success. Eusébio had all these attributes in abundance, and you might argue that is why he was so successful. He had the right mindset since he arrived in Lisbon to play for Benfica. He said “I'm going to break into that team”, meaning that he would make the starting 11 right away, and that was the case.

When it comes to resilience, self-efficacy is a crucial factor that no one can give you; you need to have a certain level of confidence inside you and believe in your capabilities, whether you are looking for a job, performing tasks at work or competing at the highest level.

Eusébio also had the right attitude. He would do things like congratulate the opposing the goalkeeper for a great save when he couldn't score, or put his hand out to an opposing player right after being tackled, fouled and hurt - no abuse, no name calling and definitely no coin throwing. Being resilient is not a matter of wish, studying or developing skills, it's a long-term commitment to the self that will in turn enable you to reap the rewards. You too can learn from Eusébio about how your attitude will play a central role in being resilient.

Finally, his personality. Eusébio had a big heart, and was always willing to serve others. He would mentor youngsters and share his mistakes and lessons learned in life in order to help them avoid making the same mistakes. He always receptive to talk to fans and shake strangers' hands. He was a true gentleman, a man with amazing interpersonal skills considering his modest upbringing. How to be resilient can’t be taught in books, it's not merely an exercise.

Joao Bocas is CEO of Sports13

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