Yesterday, the United States Women's National soccer team won the World Cup.
They set a record for consecutive wins and coach Jill Ellis became the only coach to win two World Cups. Not to mention, they broke goal-scoring and jersey-sales records, and won over countless hearts in the process.
Simply put, they are the very definition of champions. So, what can we learn from their winning ways? Here are a few key lessons I found:
Resilience is rewarded.
Alex Morgan was told she'd only be a practice player by her club coach, and she initially won a spot on the national team solely because another player dropped out. Jessica McDonald, the only mother on the team, thought her time had passed before getting the call from Ellis to join the team, and she and her son's winning photo is one of the most memorable of the tournament.
So, yes, United States women's soccer has a history of dominance, but its players are evidence that resilience goes a long way, on and off the field, with their personal stories of triumph over challenges and doubt.
Confidence is queen.
Hubris gets a bad rap in business, and rightly so, but anyone watching Megan Rapinoe during the World Cup knows she was leading with justifiable and infectious confidence.
In addition to showing it in her dominant play throughout the tournament, Rapinoe's post-game goal celebration and staunch defense of her teammate Morgan's celebration made one thing clear: These women were going to talk the talk, walk the walk, and take up space doing it.
Age is just a number.
The U.S.'s goals in the winning game represented the oldest (Rapinoe) and the second-youngest (Rose Lavelle) players to score in a World Cup final. Carli Lloyd entered the game to massive applause in the second half at 36 years of age, and played in 271 games in international competition.
With the discussion on the ideal age to start a company, this team is a great reminder that a combination of youthful energy and seasoned experience is the perfect recipe for success and leadership.
Role models matter.
Title IX was passed in 1972, at which point there were 700 girls playing soccer in the entire United States. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, between 1972 and 1991, there was a 17,000 percent increase, and as of 2018, there were 390,482 female high school soccer players in the United States, which doesn't even include the countless young women who compete at younger and less competitive levels of the sport.
This group of World Cup champions grew up watching the likes of Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, and Shannon Boxx compete. And it's no accident that the combination of policy changes, abundance of role models, and visibility paved the way for more women to play at the highest levels of the game.
It's a good reminder to never forget the old adage "you can't be what you can't see," and that role models of all genders, ages, races, and sexual preferences are critical for supporting future generations' dreams.
Equality matters, not just to your employees but also to your consumers.
Nike announced on its earnings call that the United States Women's National soccer jersey kits have outpaced every other team in website jersey sales, and Budweiser announced yesterday that it will sponsor women's sports leagues.
These women have proved that they can not only outperform their male counterparts on the field, they can also generate valuable viewership numbers, jersey sales, and sponsorships off it. It's on FIFA to ensure they are fairly compensated for their dominance, but this team has defied every stereotype and misguided justification for why women's teams don't get top billing, top sponsorship, or top viewership compared with their male counterparts.
While the rest of the world was recovering from Fourth of July barbecues and relaxing to start the summer, the United States Women's National Team was showing the world who was boss. In doing so, they taught us all valuable lessons on leadership, resilience, confidence, poise, and success that will last well beyond the next four years, when I have no doubt this incredible team will be back to defend its title.