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By Christopher Maina

The world’s biggest football extravaganza ended last month. Many fans around the world had to endure long nights waiting for the matches due to the time zone differences. And the billions who watched the games supported different teams picked from the best in the world. Many of the teams fell by the wayside while only the best two reached the finals. As they say, the best team won or so I think.

Since I am not one to let a game in which I am not taking part cause me heartaches, I avoided taking sides as much as I could. The only two times I took sides was when my wife was watching the match with me and she made me pick a team. Both times I lost, but only against my dear wife. Nevertheless, this particular World Cup gave me time to contemplate about a man’s life.

Each one of us is at every point in our life either a player or a spectator. And this determines how well we live depending on how long we spend our time in each of these categories. From where I sat as a spectator throughout the World Cup month, I discovered that a spectator basically shuts his own life and puts aside his own plans to watch the player.

Being a spectator means that you lounge for long hours with your heartbeat determined by how the players behave on the pitch. And for the entire duration of the game, the spectator spends money. If you are watching from home, your electricity bill goes up, your coffee, sugar and snacks also don’t last long as you use them to pass time. If you are watching from the pub, well, you can imagine the number of bottles of soda or alcohol you take for the 90 minutes. And for the matches which went through penalties, meaning the match lasted for more than 120 minutes, meant that you continue piling the calories as your blood sugar and blood pressure get affected, and in the end you spend money at your doctor’s.

On the other hand, the player does not put aside his life because of the spectator. The game is his life and he is fully alive for all the 90 or more minutes. And he makes money every second of the duration. Although he has his stress while on the pitch, it is constructive stress. He is exacting his mind and body. He is burning the calories and keeping fit. And, therefore, he won’t be seeing his doctor for lifestyle-related ailments any time soon. And in the end, the player has a real chance of success. He knows that glory awaits him once he records victory. If he loses, he knows that he did his best while his chances lasted. If he wins, then he swims in the glory of the moment. He lifts the trophy.

My lesson from the World Cup is this – only those who take risk, those who get out of their comfort zone, those who go out to make life and not those who watch life happen to them rule the world. If you are a spectator of life, things happen to you without your control. Other people score goals where you do not want them to score and you waste a lot of resources – most importantly your health – worrying about what others are not doing for you.

You are stressed because the government is not creating employment or because your county representative is not keeping his campaign promise to you. A spectator is a loser. Not so for a player. He determines the terms in which he plays the game. He negotiates his pay and his life is largely in his own hands.

Forget the World Cup for a moment and think about your life. Do you spend most of your time as a spectator or a player? The answer will explain why you find yourself at the exact place you are today. Are you struggling because you are trying and losing or because you never try? Would you rather watch things happen or do you jump into the arena to make things happen? If you are married, do you take your responsibility as a man, taking care of your wife and children as a man should, or do you just sit to complain how bad things are?

Whatever your position in life is today, the fact is, only the player has a real chance of winning in life. The spectator only wins if he places bets on a game. But can a man place his entire life on betting? I made up my mind not to be a spectator of life. I get into the arena and play all I can. Sometimes I will lose and become the laughing stock, some other times I will be injured and be carried out of the pitch on a stretcher. But I will keep on playing until victory comes my way. That is my resolve, what about you?

Published in August 2014