“I am in love with the whole world.”—Maurice Sendak
In Europe, soccer (they call it football) is huge. Really big. The best players make $50 million per year.
Ostersunds FK, a football club in remote northern Sweden, in a town just 240 miles from the Arctic Circle knew their only hope of competing in the big leagues was Eljest. It’s a Swedish term that means “be different.”
Their coach, Graham Potter, a Brit who’d never really led a team before, noticed that all the teams trained the same, organized the same, played the same. They were mostly owned by old white dudes.
What if he mixed it up? What if, in addition to practices, he started a Culture Academy where his players were encouraged to try something new, to step out of their comfort zones? What if he got the whole town involved?
So, in 2010, his first year as coach of this team that was lucky to get 600 fans to a game, required his players to perform Swan Lake. For the community. The next year, they wrote a book. They went on to paint, to stage a rock concert, to mentor a team of refugees in Darfur.
And a funny thing happened. This little team of soccer rejects went from 4th tier soccer when the “be weird experiment” began in 2010 to playing in 1st tier soccer.
In 2017, they won the Swedish Cup. They’ve gone on to play in the Europa League and have racked up wins against such powerhouses as Berlin and Galatasaray SK, a legendary Turkish team that was so impressed with their grit that they gave them a standing ovation.
As their manager said, “We win every game, even if the score shows otherwise, because we learn something new every time.”
So today, as we ponder ACIM Lesson 56, think of Ostersunds FK who accomplished the impossible by changing their mindset, being brave, opening up to a whole new weird way of being.
Pam Grout is the author of 19 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her new book, Art & Soul,Reloaded: A Year-Long Apprenticeship to Summon the Muses and Ignite Your Daring, Audacious, Creative Side.