Dr. Louis Brown Ogbeifun

Accredited Mediator | Certified Professional Manager and Trainer in Workplace Conflicts


Lessons from the Goalpost: Why Understanding Mistakes Matters in Life – A Call for Empathy and Support Instead of Condemnation

It is easy to criticize others and see ourselves as the only perfect ones. No! Jehovah is the only perfect and infallible one.

Many criticize others without having all the information. Many outside the ring of decision making do not know what those inside the arena are facing.

I hear people say, “That can not happen to me,” But I learned through two of my mistakes as a goalkeeper not to ever follow the crowd with that assumption.

As a young footballer in the 70s, Coach Obi Okoye of Abakaliki White Angels decided to field me as the first choice goalkeeper in 1976 or so. I came into Abakaliki stadium with all hope and confidence. But unfortunately, I conceded a goal that many thought was cheap.

As a goalkeeper, one was expected to be moving from the six yards’ box with the ball as your team attacks the other team.

However, once the ball was lost to the opponent, one was also expected to be backtracking towards the goal area as the opponents moved towards your half of the field.

It worked so well for me for a while because I was always cutting off any through pass that could beat my central defenders (5 & 6.)

But in a surprise counter attack, we lost the ball upfront, and our opponent watched and found that I was out of my goal line, and a player kicked the ball so high over my team mates. Unfortunately, I was too far from my goal line that I couldn’t backtrack to save the ball and a goal resulted.

My team mates were furious. But Coach Obi Okoye, an elderly and fine coach saw it differently. In the next match, he still fielded me, perhaps to boost my confidence. The rest is now history. May God continue to bless his kind spirit.

While I also played for NEPA FC, Warri, and playing against Rubber Board in the 80s, I conceded a goal from a direct corner kick taken by Odidi (Just hope I remembered his name). The goal infuriated the fans and my team mates. Not the Coach, who never stopped using me. Though I did well in that match, the only thing some of my team mates remembered was the mistake I made.

So it is with the game of life. Relating these football to life experiences, I found that people will always remember how bad you made them feel no matter how good you have been to them.

Secondly, many people forget that we are not creatures of logic but of emotions, which could affect our outputs.

Thirdly, many people are quick to condemn their bosses or surbordinates, forgetting that they also make mistakes while growing. Nobody is perfect. Only God is.

Given the above, I implore people not to play God or Solomon when others make mistakes. When people make genuine mistakes, they deserve our empathy and support, not condemnations.

Let people know that mistakes are part of our success building blocks. Mistakes make us know those things we should never repeat or the things that we must do differently.

Happy Sunday. Grace and peace!!!