8 Remarkable Life Lessons We Can Learn From Lionel Messi

Updated on June 10, 2018

The contemporary football wizard, Lionel Andrés Messi, is one of the richest and most revered soccer players of our generation. Last year, the football star raked in an eye-watering $80 million in salary and endorsements, landing him at No. 14 spot on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 in 2017 and the No. 3 spot on Forbes’s list of World’s Highest Paid Athletes (behind Basket player LeBron James and fellow footballer Christiano Ronaldo).

He has literary rewritten the football records books as he has won the world’s most coveted Ballon d'Or trophy five times. He has also won the European Golden Shoe five times and is the all-time record winner.

Lionel Messi showcases his dribbling skills

From the first glance, it may seem that Messi has been given the easy ticket in life. However, it wasn’t an easy ride up.

Messi was born on June 24, 1987, in the Argentinian city of Rosario. At a young age of five, Leo started playing football for a local club coached by his father.

But then, at the age of 11, a checkup at his doctor’s office resulted in a diagnosis of a growth hormone disorder. The doctors wanted to put him on a GH therapy but his parents couldn’t afford the $900 monthly expense required for his treatment.

At the age of 13, Messi’s phenomenal skills impressed FC Barcelona’s officials so much that they offered him the chance to play at their prestigious La Masia Academy. The Catalan giants sponsored Messi’s move to Spain and also offered to pay for his medical treatment.

Although his early years were full of hardship, Leo didn’t let this stop him from achieving his dream of being counted among the pantheon of greats like Maradona, Pele, and Cantona. It was the challenges of his humble beginnings that turned out to be the very driving force behind the realization of his dreams.

Having been lucky enough to experience wealth and poverty, Messi can teach us practical life lessons that we can all apply in our own lives. Here are some of Leo’s quotes that best illustrate his attitude.

1. Fight for your dreams

"You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it.” – Lionel Messi

Messi is such an inspiration when it comes to overcoming the barriers to success. He prospered from adversity, instead of being consumed by it. His determination, resilience, and motivation to follow his dreams, against all odds, sustained him through some very dark and difficult times.

So take those first steps, and don’t quit until you get to where you’ve always wanted to be.

2. Learn to accept failure

"Sometimes you must admit that you cannot win all the time." – Lionel Messi

Perhaps a better way of looking at this quote is to look at one of life’s true visionaries – President Donald Trump who penned the phrase “sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war."

The simple truth is that you cannot reach unparalleled heights or make the impossible possible without failure. It may be one epic failure. Or a series of failures – such as Dyson’s 5,126 attempts to create a bagless vacuum cleaner or Edison’s 10,000 attempts to invent a light bulb. Even so, whether we like it or not, failure is a crucial part of goal achievement. Only through defeat can you grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And as long as a glimmer of hope remains, so do we.

3. Don’t let the opinions of others hamper your dreams and ambitions

“A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of the sheep.” – Lionel Messi

When you are in the stadium with thousands of people glaring at you, shouting at you, praising you, cursing you, and doing all sorts of crazy stuff, all you got to remember is why you are there.

Life is a battleground and there is only one opinion – your opinion. Do not allow the opinion of others to sway your beliefs and do not stop until you reach your goals.

4. There is no such thing as overnight success

"It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” – Lionel Messi

Many of us are in such a hurry to success that we excitedly take any shortcuts that come across our way.

The truth is there are no shortcuts to success and it takes a whole lot of hard work. We must get off the long route that leads us to unchartered territories of uncertainty, unsustainability, and delayed outcomes.

5. Passion for your job can lead to success

"What I'm doing is playing football, which is something I love." – Lionel Messi

According to positive psychology books like the Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar's, and Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, rates of depression, stress, and anxiety are on the rise in the US and around the world.

The main cause behind this epidemic of depression is the fact that the majority of people are not participating in jobs that excites them. In other words, they chose the wrong career path. According to them, work is no longer a career, but a more of a taxing nuisance on their mind and body that has to get done.

Doing what you love – whether as a hobby or for a living – is a lifestyle that brings genuine happiness into your life. When you love what you are doing, it's clear that you will do a good job.

Messi would not succeed in football if he did not like the game. Football was part of his life from day one. Even at a very early age, Messi’s passion for football was already evident.

"When his mother sent him off to run errands, Messi always took his ball with him. If he didn’t have one, he would make one out of plastic bags,” his bother Matias once said.

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6. The cornerstone of building any skill is practice

“Every year I try to grow as a player and not get stuck in a rut. I try to improve my game in every way possible. But that trait is not something I’ve worked on, it’s part of me.” – Lionel Messi

When it comes to becoming a world-class expert at any skill, the first thing that probably comes to mind is “practice makes perfect.”

No matter how successful you are, there will always be room for growth. The only way to be the best in what you are doing is to make improvements every day.

Do something that will make you better every day. Read books and articles (like this you are reading). Also, listen to people who will build you and give you every day smile.

7. Chasing money won’t lead to long-term success

“Money is not a motivating factor…My motivation comes from playing the game I love. If I wasn’t paid to be a professional footballer, I would willingly play for nothing.” – Lionel Messi

When Messi walks into a room people are impressed by how many goals he has scored or how many trophies he has added to his name, not by his money. He would tell you that the lasting respect of others is far greater than money as a measure of accomplishment.

When people choose their careers, they’re oftentimes blinded by money and so choose to follow the paper trail. Messi teaches us that there is nothing wrong with having money, but it should not influence your career choice. That typically feeds a very self-centered emotion, greed.

If blogging is something you do a lot for free then that is your passion. Do it.

8. Never forget important things in life

"There are more important things in life than winning or losing a game" – Lionel Messi

It’s probably fair to say that all of us would love to be winners. The desire to win can be great and motivating in pushing us to work hard and achieve more. However, it stops being good when it replaces most important things in life.

Extreme wealth or success should not bring disconnect from simple things like sitting down for a dinner with family and friends. That’s the stuff that brings joy to life. It’s not a running streak of victories, big salaries or bragging rights that will fill the emptiness inside you.


Applying these life lessons may not make you as rich or famous as Messi, but it will surely help you become a better person even just by one percent.

© 2018 Solomon Magawi


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