The snow is coming down hard here (again) in the Boston area… the roads are terrible, schools are closed and my flight to a very valued client in Virginia was canceled by the airline.
All the makings of a very miserable Monday morning but somehow the sun shines bright and you can feel the positive energy in the air from the New England Patriots Super Bowl victory last night against the formidable Seattle Seahawks.
If you’re not from New England you may not be (likely are not) a big fan of the Patriots and that’s okay, it’s hard to be heroes without villains (queue maniacal laugh).
Despite personal feelings, everyone should admire and can learn from what the Patriots were able to accomplish this year – none more so than folks and organizations seeking greater success in the professional endeavors.
With that, here’s 4 Success Lessons from the New England Patriots I hope help you:
Lesson #1: It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish
As Patriots fans well know, the team did not start the season in championship form, losing the first two games of the season. As bad as that was, the fourth game of the season was worse, much worse as they were pummeled and embarrassed by the Kansas City Chiefs in a devastating 41-14 loss on Monday Night Football. At that time, critics had a field day saying, among many other things, that the Patriots winning ways were behind them and quarterback Tom Brady was a has-been.
During the post-game interview, coach Bill Belichick was asked about all this and emphatically replied, “We’re on to Cincinnati,” referring to their next game. The Patriots then won their next seven games.
In football as in life, it’s a long season. You will have setbacks. Put them behind you and move forward.
Lesson #2: Prepare To Win or Prepare To Lose To Somebody Who Is Prepared To Win
Legendary University of Alabama head coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, said, “It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
It would be unfair to imply that every NFL team doesn’t prepare to win, it’s their job after all, but Tom Brady takes this to a whole other level.
During a press conference a few years ago, coach Belichick commented on Brady’s preparation saying that he begins preparing for next week’s game on the way home from this week’s game. Think about that from a leadership standpoint… You can’t be the guy who moseys into practice on Tuesday when Tom Brady is already watching game films and strategizing for next week’s game immediately after Sunday’s game.. you better have your act together!
For more on Tom Brady’s remarkable preparation, see this excellent article from the December issue of Sports Illustrated > Given the way he prepares, Tom Brady won’t be slowing down anytime soon
Lesson #3: Stay Focused on the Goal
If you’ve been living on planet earth for the last month or so then you’re likely well aware of the whole “De-Flategate” debate. So much has been said over the last couple weeks I won’t add to it here other than to say I think Rob Finnerty addressed it best here > This News Anchor Destroys “De-Flategate”. FINALLY!
Clearly, this was initially a huge distraction for the team, especially coach Belichick and Tom Brady who were the focus of the allegations. After assessing and addressing the situation several more than several times, they were able to successfully drown out the noise, clear the heads and focus on the goal of winning the Super Bowl.
This is major success factor of high-achievers. It’s not that they don’t have challenges, obstacles and/or distractions. It’s that they’re able to focus on the goal and not let these hinder their success.
Lesson #4: Every Team Member Must Do Their Job
Coach Belichick’s “Do Your Job!” became the mantra that drove the team to the Super Bowl victory. All Patriots team members understood the vision, the expectations, the game plan and their role in it.
Bill Belichick has referred to this as “Positive Leadership” where team members focus on 1) Doing their job and 2) Putting the team first.
Perhaps the best example of ‘doing your job’ was the game winning play when undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler intercepted Seahawk’s quarterback Russell Wilson’s pass on second-and-goal from the Patriots half-yard line to cap off an incredible 4th quarter comeback victory.
Malcolm Butler wasn’t even part of the rotation to start the game. But, when called upon, he did his job and snatched victory literally from the hands of defeat.
In business, employees are either an asset or liability to the team. They are either helping you win or hurting your chances of winning. Like the Patriots, leadership must effectively strategize and utilize the players who do their job and provide the best opportunity to win.
Congratulations to the New England Patriots, 2014 Super Bowl Champs!