I’m confident that I was not alone on Feb. 5 as I experienced sheer and utter disbelief that the Atlanta Falcons let a 25-point lead slip through their hands in a gut-wrenching loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51 – a U.S. football past-time, which was viewed by 100 million sports fans worldwide.
And as painful as that loss was for the citizens of Georgia and the Falcons’ adoring fans, the event is filled with important leadership lessons:
- Never ever, ever give up. As bad as a situation may seem, as long as you have not run out of time, you can turn it around – it’s not over until it’s over. Great leaders know this and make it a point to hire people who are optimistic and positive, and fight to the end. Many football fans thought the game was over mid-way through the third quarter, but it wasn’t. Why? Because New England’s star player – Tom Brady – was going to give it everything he had until the scoreboard clock displayed 00.00.
- Anything is possible as long as you believe. Believe. It’s my second favorite word in this world behind magical. Believe comes from old German words meaning to have trust. Belief doesn’t require proof, just acceptance and confidence. If you believe, it means you think you can do what you set out to do and it triggers forces greater than you to work on your behalf. Julian Edelman’s gravity-defying catch was one of these moments. There’s no other way to account for it – the force was with him.
- Youth brings to the table extraordinary traits, but in a clutch situation experience rules. I love young people. They are filled with passion, energy and creativity, and easily embrace technology and taking risks. However, when the chips are down, your experienced team members know the ropes and can rely on their past experiences to make sound decisions on the fly. Great leaders ensure that their team is made up of both youth and experience (Tom Brady is 39-years old, yet the Patriots had the youngest roster among AFC contenders), and tap experience when doomsday in on the doorstep.
Be Awesome! The next time you think it’s over or that you’re about to lose – and trust me, the time will come – think of Super Bowl 51 and the lessons it affords. Stay positive, believe, and tap into your experience to help you figure out the next step. This approach will strengthen your odds of turning the situation around and if it does not go your way, always remember… you can’t always get what you want, but you’ll always get what you need.