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David De Gea and the Easy Saves

A David De Gea and business leader story about the Manchester United Goalkeeper, not getting credit, and making it look easy.

Perhaps you’ve heard of him. He is one of the best, maybe even the best, soccer goalie in the world. The world? Yes. Or, at least, that’s my opinion. Other people have different opinions.

For example, in early 2019, he had a very good day for his club team, Manchester United, in a game against Tottenham Hotspur. In the second half, he made big save after big save. Tottenham was amazing too, but they couldn’t score.

I was sure I’d seen one of the best athletic performances in the last year, but afterwards I hopped online and discovered that a lot of fans—and a lot of sportswriters—weren’t that impressed. I couldn’t understand. Had we even been watching the same game?

Reading deeper, I found that the haters all had one thing in common; they didn’t think David De Gea had been under that much pressure, that Tottenham just wasn’t that good that day. Nobody doubted De Gea’s incredible 11 saves, more, by the way than any other Premier League goalie up to that point. They just weren’t impressed because, as they explained it, all those balls had been shot directly to where David De Gea was.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong again….

Tottenham was fantastic that day, first of all. They had all their players’ healthy, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Son, and so on, and they had Manchester United on their heels the entire second half, especially late in the game. There was constant pressure, constant stress in the box. They weren’t shooting straight at De Gea—he just put himself in the perfect position to respond every time. That’s how good he was. He got in position so fast, experienced commentators thought he was there before the shot!

We all want the highlight reel, the incredible saves that only the most elite players can pull off. But the best of the best don’t always look like that. The truly great ones can make it look easy.

In business, too, there’s the temptation to admire and reward the folks who constantly seem to be saving the day, closing long-shot deals and resolving major crises at the last possible moment. And yes, as long as these people aren’t creating the crises themselves (that does happen), these are keepers, people you want on your team.

But then there are the people who never have crises in the first place because they see the problem coming from a mile away and resolve it before anyone else even notices. Meetings are more productive just because they are there. Their deals never look like long-shots because they always close (or it seems that way at least), thanks to plenty of preparation behind the scenes.

The people who make it look easy are the ones to watch, even though they might not seem like superstars and even though the outside world may not give them credit for their success. But, they are the best of the best, just like David De Gea of Manchester United, the greatest soccer goalie in the world. 

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