Performing on the biggest stage

BY: Albert & Comfort Ocran
Performing on the biggest stage
Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best footballers of all time. For a long time, football pundits, writers and fans have engaged in a deadlocked debate about which of the two five-time winners of the World Best Player Award is better - Ronaldo or his perennial rival, Lionel Messi.

Each of the two football “perfectionists” has a large following of supporters that are so entrenched in their position that nothing the other does will impress them to change their minds. However, after their first round of matches in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it seems that a number of neutrals have swung towards Ronaldo and understandably so.

In Portugal’s first match against title favourites Spain, Ronaldo put in a masterclass performance and ended up with an unlikely hat-trick in the enthralling match which ended in a pulsating 3-3 draw. The whole world looked on with bated breath as, with a couple of minutes to go, Ronaldo stepped up and converted a free kick from an almost impossible angle to level the tie.

The gauntlet had been thrown down. All eyes would focus on Messi to see his response in the match between Argentina and a much less-fancied Iceland team that was apparently made up of amateur footballers with a film director as goalkeeper and a dentist as the coach.

When Argentina scored first in the 19th minute, the expectation was that a goal harvest and a Messi show was imminent. Iceland responded in four minutes and bravely fought to a most improbable 1-1 draw. Messi had a night to forget as he missed both a penalty and various free kicks.

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The comparison has been intense all weekend and rightly so. For now, Ronaldo is in pole position until things inevitably change. But what made the hat-trick so significant? It was the size of the stage and the height of the stakes. It doesn't get any bigger than the World Cup finals.

Legendary rise

The Portuguese wizard was virtually unknown in 2003 when Manchester United toured Portugal in pre-season and played what was supposed to be a routine training match with Sporting Lisbon.

The vintage skills he exhibited and his role in the surprise demolition of Manchester United earned him a transfer to join the English giants. That was a case of seizing his opportunity to exhibit his competence on the big stage.

Today, he has honed his skills and made significant improvements in his game. He has moved from earning a paltry income to becoming one of the highest paid, most valuable and sought-after players in the world.

What is most interesting and noteworthy for all seeking business and career success is his penchant to step up on the biggest stage. This is evidenced by his enviable record of five champions league titles, an European title, five Ballon d’Ors and many more accomplishments.

After the match against Spain, former colleague Rio Ferdinand was left astounded as he tweeted: “I can't breathe. It's illegal what Ronaldo is doing at the World Cup.” He added what many didn't know about Ronaldo’s meticulous discipline and regimen.

“He was the first person I saw employing nutritionists, a doctor, a personal physio and a chef. They came and lived in his house, he lived up the road from me, a couple of doors up. Going to his house was like a carnival, people walking around and I used to think, ‘Wow, what’s going on here? But he invested in himself to become the best in the world and he left Manchester United as the best player in the world,” Ferdinand mused.

Your route to career success and fulfilment will be greatly enhanced by your discipline and competence in the important areas of your work. Everyone is paid to do something specific in a team or organisation.


To be competent is to have the necessary skills or qualities; it means developing your ability in your field. The interpretation of competence varies with different roles. A goalkeeper’s competence lies in how well he prevents the ball from entering the goal posts. On the other hand, a striker is hired to put the ball into the goal posts and he earns his reward for doing just that. Whether you are paid to score, defend, attack or referee, just be excellent at doing it.

To improve your competence, you need to define what your role is and what constitutes success for you. Commit yourself to being excellent in that most important thing that the world looks up to you to perform.

One of the habits of the competent is to under-promise and over-deliver. Always give people more than they expect from you. That means going the extra mile even when you have not been asked. Competence is dynamic.

You cannot perform at yesterday’s level and claim to still be competent. You need to invest daily into having that something extra that distinguishes the excellent from the also-runs. That is your surest way to the top.

Becoming the best also means enduring the disappointments and failures that go with developing your skills and keeping at it till you get to the very top of your field. At the peak of his career, Michael Jordan captured this principle so succinctly when he said, “I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game winning, shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Concluding thought: Whatever your area of endeavour and business, whether you are an accountant, salesman, lawyer, pharmacist, doctor, designer or cleaner, determine to do it so well that excellence will be your middle name. Do it the Ronaldo way, always shining on the big stage.

As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best person we can; by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we've been given - Mary Lou Retton.

• Albert and Comfort Ocran are executive coaches, ministers and authors. They host the Springboard, virtual university, on Joy FM every Sunday at 7pm. The show is sponsored by Ecobank, MTN and Graphic Business.