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The World Cup: A Life Lesson from Penalty Kicks

In the World Cup many of the matches will be determined by one of the tensest showdowns in pro sports: the PK, or penalty kick. It's over in about half a second, and you have a goal or you have a player who's a goat. I mean, how can you miss? The ball is placed only 12 yards away, and that goal is 8 yards wide and 8 feet high.

But here's an interesting stat about those kicks. Goalkeepers jump left 57 percent of the time and right 41 percent, which means they stay in the center only 2 times out of 100. In other words, it's a pretty clear bet that if you shoot right down the middle you'll score. But only 17 percent of the kicks are aimed down the center. Why? Because the keeper is standing right in the middle, and if you shoot it right at him, you will look like a complete idiot. In other words, according to Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dunbar in their new book Think Like a Freak, the fear of shame prevents soccer players from considering a great option.

Possible Preaching Angle:

How about us? Does the fear of failure and shame prevent us from doing the right thing?

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