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Look Up and See the Furthest Player Away

I won’t hide my bias – I always believed John O’Brien was the missing link in creating a world-class soccer team. The single characteristic that O’Brien had that was missing from other central midfielders on the USMNT was a creative mind, one that is being recognized in this year’s young midfield maestro Jose Francisco Torres.
When O’Brien was picked up by the New York Times to add some depth to the training and preparation of this efition of the USMNT, I was excited to read his thoughts and how they might translate into everyday business planning and creativity.

In a recent article, O’Brien was talking about how he was given advice by Jan Wouters about a complex part of playing soccer:

“When you get the ball on the field,” he said, “look up and see the furthest player away, in doing so you can see everything in between.”

Sure seems like sound business advice. For each project (or activity, or task), if we’re able to look up and see how this project might affect other departments/projects and what the outcome may (and may not) turn into, we can see all the little pitfalls and mis-directions that might fell us.

It’s not always easy to see through some of the other noise (colleagues, projects, etc.), especially when pressured with time, but it’s a great exercise to get into.