This country has a borderline obsessive fascination with football, doesn’t it? Think about it. Now that the season is back, people religiously sit down on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday to watch their favorite teams duke it out like the gladiators of old. I’m no exception to the rule. I pay attention to the 49ers every year, and I thoroughly expect them to be back in the championship game (since the name is licensed and the organization will sue) this year.
My favorite part about football isn’t the competition, or watching the 9ers beat the Falcons. It isn’t the parties or hearing about another fight/stabbing/shooting at a Raiders game. No, it’s the lessons we can learn and apply to our businesses and our lives.
Football is a metaphor for life. I know, but bear with me. Every game represents the next challenge. As it plays out, you watch teams rise and fall. The commentators mention all the hard work and preparation involved leading up to tonight’s game. As you sit back and watch these athletes battle for the victory, you find yourself cheering for one team, or one player, to win. There is something inside of you that connects.
That something is not only your sense of competition. There is a part of you that wants to lead in the same way the best quarterbacks and coaches do. It’s a part of you that wants to call the plays for your team that will lead them to victory, make changes on the fly and turn them into heroes.
Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.
– Vince Lombardi
And, if you watch closely, you can learn how. When you watched the Saints during their victorious 2009 season, you may have noticed they were a second quarter team. That’s because their quarterback, Drew Brees, spent the whole of halftime studying what happened on the field during the first half so he would know how to respond to their opponent’s current playing style. Last year, you would have learned the intricate strategies that both John and Jim Harbaugh used to navigate the game between the Ravens and 49ers. And, back in the San Francisco glory days, you would have watched Joe Montana transform a team into an unstoppable machine. They were all doing things that great leaders of any organization do.
It’s probably not uncommon either for you to hear the echoes of Mr. Lombardi’s coaching in the self improvement materials you read. In fact, you probably think I have something from him to share. That’s where you’re wrong. I want to introduce you to the new winningest football coach in history. With over 600 wins in his career (that’s 129 more than the top college coach John Gagliardi, and 272 more than Don Shula, the NFLs best), that places him at the top of the list at any level of football. He has some advice on learning from adversity that he shares with Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry International.