If I could ask Lionel Messi, Argentina’s star soccer player, one question, it would be this: ‘Why did you take the time to adjust your shoelaces before attempting your record-breaking free kick against the USA on June 21st? I’d ask it, but I think I might know his answer.
Even though you might not know his name, I would argue that Messi is actually the most famous athlete in the world – above LeBron James, bigger than Tony Romo, beyond Serena Williams. And he deserves that accolade. To me, his performance on the soccer field is a symphony of talent, skill, training, practice, Zen, and attention to detail. All the way down to his shoelaces.
You wouldn’t think that the way a shoelace makes impact with a soccer ball would influence the trajectory of a 30-yard free kick, but why chance it? Why risk just the slightest pull to the right or the left? Watch the video and you’ll see that Messi hit the sweet spot. A little to the left, and the goalie might have blocked the kick. A little to the right, and Messi might have missed the net. Shoelaces just may have mattered. And not a little, but a lot.
The same could be said for what we do at SJS. It’s the attention to detail that matters. Not only on the actual investing side of our business, but also on the advising side. Our attention to detail is evident when we work with and assist the other professionals who handle your estate planning, tax strategy and gifting on the personal side. And then there’s the intense attention to detail required when advising our clients on the fiduciary oversight of endowments. Shoelaces in the wrong place in the business of finance can mean loss, fines, or worse. It can stall a mission.
I love when I see life imitating life. And watching this soccer game with my son, I kept rewinding the DVR and saying, “Look at that! He’s fixing his shoelaces! Did you see that?” My son may have thought I was missing the point of the whole thing, after all – that free kick made Messi the highest goal scorer in the history of Argentina soccer, and Argentina is the top-ranked team in the world. But I couldn’t help but make the connection that the best in the world pay attention to the details. They leave as little to chance as possible. They control everything they humanly can.
It’s true that certain things are out of anyone’s control. A slight wind could have affected Messi’s shot and a news blip that happens half a world away can impact the markets. But knowing that, the winningest among us still pay attention to detail. They take that extra step. They adjust their shoelaces.
Most replays of Messi’s shot don’t show this nuance of excellence. But the result of it, and all the other details he never leaves to chance, are symbols of what it takes to win. I’ll remember that amazing kick. The Internet will immortalize it. But today and everyday, I’ll be reminded that the littlest things do matter 30 yards away or, in our world, 30 years down the road. Thanks, Lionel, for a great game and a life lesson.