How to become the best team: Observations from the football pitch

Tareq Amin
Rakuten Symphony
December 23, 2022
minute read

Very excited and inspired to share that I had the tremendous privilege and honor to attend the finals of one of the world’s greatest sporting events of the year in Qatar this month. It has been a lifelong dream of mine and something which brings on emotions difficult to put into words. Congratulations to Argentina for their amazing win, and also to France and all other countries who participated for their outstanding heart and incredible performance.

Watching this year’s games have reminded me how much the sport of football transcends boundaries, languages and other differences. It has a lot in common with Rakuten Symphony’s own vision of democratizing connectivity everywhere, for everyone, and breaking barriers wherever we find them. Success in both depends on having the best, most talented individuals playing together as one united team. 

Some of the Rakuten Symphony team in Tokyo who regularly play together gave me the opportunity to play with them last week and I was very glad to join what also turned into an impromptu team building event. We came together, we enjoyed the game, we played, we celebrated. 

But most importantly, we spent time to appreciate each other’s efforts: and not just on the pitch that day but over the entire year. Our global team consists of more than 60 nationalities spread across the world, from all sorts of backgrounds and past experiences. And it is this diversity and the willingness to come together that brings true strength and power. A football team that only consists of strikers will never succeed. A team that consists of only defenders will be the same. It is inside diversity and through inclusion, that true excellence exists. 

Nothing is more important than being part of a team and being there for your team. That means:

  • Training together for an extended period before taking to the main stage
  • Being willing to do what it takes for other team members to succeed
  • Doing the things most people will not notice, to support that moment when the goal is scored and the whole world takes note
  • Knowing how to become the best team, not the best individual contributor

Finally, it also means being kind to yourself. Knowing when to walk and when to run. The world’s greatest footballer, Lionel Messi, is notorious for how much he “just” walks in a game. But when he does run, it makes all the difference. And he can run because he has been saving himself for those moments and because he has a world-class team around him that he absolutely trusts. The noteworthy performances by Messi and his teammates throughout the tournament show just how important all of this is. The whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.

"You can only be the best for a moment in time. But you can be better everyday. You can show up every day. Work to be the best version of yourself every day. Recognize and give to your teammates every single day."
-Tareq Amin, CEO, Rakuten Mobile and Rakuten Symphony

And even though France’s hopes to be world champions two tournaments in a row have gone unrealized, all greats understand it is not actually about the win. It is about taking part in the journey, together. You can only be the best for a moment in time. But you can be better everyday. You can show up every day. Work to be the best version of yourself every day. Recognize and give to your teammates every single day. Doing so will reward you and your team with that next chance and next opportunity to win.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. Take time to step back from the day-to-day and reflect on how far we have come. Let’s acknowledge the distance already traveled, as well as the future ahead.  

And thank you colleagues, partners and customers for being part of our team! My Rakuten Symphony jersey is one I’m tremendously proud to wear alongside you.

Happy Holidays!

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Future of Telecom
Tareq Amin
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