For 14 Tuesdays in a row, for almost three months in a row, I have been granted the opportunity to interview Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest football player of the present generation. I am in an enviable position as hundreds of millions of people are more than willing to take my place just to sit and learn from Messi. I will remember every visit.
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I decided to choose Messi over other great men and women of the world because of his personal background. If one will take a look at his success in the present time it is hard to believe that at one point his life was about to end in terrible defeat because of a medical condition that affected the release of growth hormones in his body. This particular medical problem was a deathblow to his dream of becoming a professional football player.
At that time Messi had no idea that someday he will become a global icon. At the same time he was only ten years old when he was diagnosed with the said ailment. Thus, it greatly impressed a lot of people as to how he was able to maintain a possible outlook. I want to find out how he was able to maintain his course eventhough life was difficult when he was a child.
Although it is important to listen to what he has to say about mental fortitude it is also equally important to find out how he develops strategies on how to win football matches. In other words, it is of great interest to me to figure out how a successulf sportsman like Messi perceives the world arouond him and this includes the game, his opponents and the other factors that affected his performance.
There are three things that I want to learn from Messi. First, I want to learn how he developed the mental fortitude needed to survive the early years when he was diagnosed with a critical condition. As a child living under desperate conditions it is hard to develop that kind of mindset. I want to know how he perceived the situation and how he managed to create a worldview that allowed him to transcend his problems.
Second, I want to know how he dealt with the consequences of the disease especially when they needed money for the cure. In the early months, the family cannot afford the medication, and they were practically beggars looking for people and organizations to help them with their healthcare crisis.
Finally, I want to find out indirectly the kind of mindset that his parents had because at that time Messi was not yet a football superstar. His father went to football clubs and made a deal with them that if they help in paying for the medical bills, Messi may seriously consider playing for them.
Fourteen days with Messi will surely change my life. It will change the way I handle ordinary problems. Most of the time, I am irritated by small questions and it gets in the way. My work suffers, and my creativity is hampered because I tend to focus on this small issue. Spending time with Messi will help me focus on the more important things in my life.
His experiences will help me understand the value of setting goals and developing a mental toughness to endure. But aside from developing an outer shell that will make me oblivious to petty issues, the most important thing to consider is how to develop the ability to work on things that I can control. Messi did not sulk when he found out he was sick. Even when he was receiving treatments, he continues to play football.
Finally, I will learn the importance of humility. Humility is one of the most understated qualities of Messi. A lot of superstar athletes lead flamboyant lives but not Messi. He truly loves what he is doing. His singleminded focus on training and improving his skills is a testament to how he loves the game. There are only a few celebrity athletes who can truly demonstrate a consistent love for the game.
The moment they begin to rake in millions of dollars in earnings and endorsement deals, they will reveal they’re true color because the game was a means to an end for them. Just a single look at current news headlines that feature Justin Bieber underscores this point very well.
Spending time with Messi will help me develop an inner-strength that will help me overcome obstacles in life. I will get a chance to learn from a person who is a true champion. I believe that spending a considerable amount of time with Messi will inspire me to do more than I believe I can do. It is not just his achievements but the fact that you know where he came from and what he went through.
It is impossible not to be inspired by his example. But above all, I want to learn how he remains humble even if he has won accolades and has a fortune that will last him several lifetimes.
It is easy to get up when a person is down but it is extremely difficult to remain on top. It is rare to find a combination of killer instinct to win at all cost and a humility that allows a championship caliber mind to remain grounded and thankful for the things that he has accomplished in his life.