If you didn’t watch the Superbowl game yesterday between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, then you missed an intense and well fought game.
Neither team playing was one of my teams, but I was crossing my fingers for the Chiefs. Yeah, my love for the Cowboys and Raiders just won’t let me cheer for the 49ers! 🤣 So yesterday was a great day in football.
Having Strong Vision
What I found amazing, now serves as one of the overarching lessons from the game, is that some people—including some of the commentators, were beginning to say in the third quarter, that the 49ers basically had this game in the bag—that somehow the Chiefs couldn’t recover from the point deficit. Which is odd, because we’ve witnessed in multiple games that the Chiefs have the grit to not only turnaround the odds, but do so in their favor. While the commentators and fans saw lack, the Chiefs saw opportunity. The Chiefs knew that the game wasn’t over until the clock read 0:00 in the fourth quarter.
While the commentators were saying that Patrick Mahomes, the quarterback for the Chiefs, somehow lost his zest, grit, mojo, magic sauce—Mahomes was focused on inspiring his team and looking for opportunities to leverage, and capitalize on. He tuned out those voices and tuned in to his inner power.
Mahomes didn’t lose anything. He was challenged to try something differently. He was tapping into his other skills. I’m surprised that the retired NFL players commenting on the game forgot what that felt like, the processes they went through to dig deep and rethink strategy. We watched them pull their teams out of the trenches, yet in their vision of Mahomes they didn’t see their past selves.
Until It’s Over, It Ain’t
There’s the lessons: you don’t give up until the game, project, activity, race, or relationship is over. And you don’t let naysayers get in your head and convince you that you don’t have what it takes to win. Even if those naysayers succeeded or failed at the same thing you’re attempting. Get them out of your head. You need to dig through your toolbox of skills and keep working until you get it right, or fail trying.
Passion, Creativity & Innovation
Both teams were highly creative and innovative, but Kansas City simply out-hustled and outmaneuvered San Francisco. Passion wanes because you stop engaging and reinvesting in it.
How many married couples later admit that the passion died when they stopped sharing, dating and learning from each other? They stopped looking for creative and innovative ways to connect.
How many businesses go belly up because they stopped reinvesting in their overall experience for both the worker and the customer. The passion for the mission dwindles because you stop pursuing new and creative ways, and revisiting old ways differently. They stop reinventing and reimagining themselves.
For some people, the mind dies before the body does.
Grit & Tenacity
Through your grit and tenacity, you can knock down barriers, and cause your opponents to make mistakes and decisions that concede to your victory. Or you at least give them a hard-won fight to the end. But you don’t just give up at the first signs of adversity. Neither the 49ers or the Chiefs caved when the scoreboard wasn’t in their favor. They simply pushed harder or with greater finesse.
When the pressure mounts, get excited, because that means you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. You just need to find the right opening to get to the next level. If it’s super easy, then you’re in the wrong arena, the wrong stadium. You’re not playing in the Superbowl, you’re playing in a Pop Warner game.
Now, let’s look at more lessons from yesterday’s game….
There were some key plays in the game where the Chiefs did the unexpected, and it worked in their favor. They didn’t belabor in the missteps, they quickly recovered, with a focus on doing better the next time. They lovingly pushed each other to get and keep their heads and hearts in the game. Being present with the current down, not obsessed over the previous ones. You can’t fix the past, only learn from it. Don’t repeat the past mistake. Don’t be sloppy and leave yourself open to future ones.
Your Focus Isn’t Everyone Else’s
After the game ended, Mahomes was interviewed and asked what happened, and why he hadn’t repeatedly thrown the long and powerful passes we saw weeks and months earlier. People wanted to be wowed and drunkardly entertained by mesmerizing antics. His team won the game but not the way people envisioned.
His response was exactly what I expected. He gave an answer that most weren’t expecting, because they were operating from a place of lack. Patrick Mahomes said, in a nutshell, that the 49ers have an amazing defensive team that made it difficult to throw long passes, and risking those opportunities would have meant that the 49ers would’ve won that game. He wasn’t there to entertain, he was there to win.
They are two of the best teams in the NFL, both there because of their amazing skills, and that meant it wouldn’t be a blow-out win for either team. They were gonna have to bust their butts and work smart and hard for that win.
Mahomes gave San Francisco credit for being a phenomenal opponent. He had to find a different way to take them down. He had to look for other opportunities, and not-so-obvious opportunities. He had to trust his coaches and team mates, and they had to trust him. His team members who play on offense had to present scoring opportunities while reducing the risk of turnovers. His defensive team had to find ways to keep the 49ers from turning every attempt into scored points, while also looking for opportunities to force turnovers in favor of the Chiefs.
That’s why we saw footage of Patrick rallying both the offensive and defensive players on the team, it required both to be in the collective mindset that they each have a role to play, tasks to execute, and responsibilities to self and team—and no matter what the score looked like, the words being screamed by fans and haters, or the commentary on television—do your job and don’t give up!
The quarterback is not just the leader of the offensive team, Mahomes is the leader of the entire team. Heck, he’s even an inspiration to the support staff and the water and towel crew who run around making sure players are hydrated and cared for.
What are You and Your Team Made Of?
There has to be harmony even during chaos.
Everyone’s head has to be in the game, and properly aligned. If not, it begins to impact other players. Energy is contagious. Watch quickly how it spreads, for or against a team. Watch it’s heightened state when victory feels imminent, and watch how it dwindles and drains when failure is perceived to be close in hand.
Yes, the Chiefs played and beat the 49ers, but their biggest opponent was their own team, their individual and collective mind. If they allowed their fears, mistakes, and setbacks to gain a footing in their mind, the roots would have grown and latched on, and they would’ve caved to the pressure.
They rechanneled the fear, frustration, disappointment, and anger. They recalibrated. They studied their opponent during the game. They studied themselves and each other. They communicated more and kept every person that was standing and seated on that sideline focused on the mission and vision.
That is why it’s more important to seek out team members with desirable character traits that align with your values, than just seek highly skilled workers. If someone’s heart isn’t in it then it will display in their work. If they aren’t invested in the same things you are, it will show. The Chiefs came together as one unit, one body, one mind.
The more that Kansas City realigned themselves, the more San Francisco would be thrown off by the realignment. Not by a great margin, but enough for the Chiefs to leverage it in their favor. That turned into a win that the team hasn’t experienced in 50 years. Kansas City has been trying 50 years to get a Superbowl win. Their head coach, Andy Reid, has been trying to win a Superbowl as head coach of a team, since he first became the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999. He had no Superbowl wins there during his 13 years with that team, and until yesterday, he had 6 years of unsuccessful attempts with the Chiefs. That’s 19 years of trying but never giving up. Year 20 he succeeded. This is his second Superbowl win in his NFL career. Talk about grit!
Learn and Apply The Lessons
Learn from yesterday’s game. Apply those lessons to your personal, professional, and academic lives. That’s what I love about sports, you can see the mirroring of other aspects of your life. The principles are the same, they’re just set in different arenas.
Is what lies before you a failure or an opportunity? Are you going to give up and walk away, or look for a different way? If you fall will you get back up or will you just lie there like a rug, letting life pass over you?
No, you won’t win every game. No, your efforts may not lead to a Superbowl victory (or something comparable in your life). No, your relationship may not last. But what effort are you investing in the success or failure? What lessons are you learning in real-time to pivot and adjust? How are you getting wiser, stronger, and better?
Life unfolds based on your perceptions. Failing doesn’t make you a failure and winning is not a guaranteed repeated outcome, even for the winner. How many of you initially thought the New England Patriots were clinching the Superbowl title again this year, just because they did it last year? Welp, they were eliminated. But I can guarantee that they are strategizing how to reclaim their spot for next year. Just as the 49ers are. Every team in the NFL is focused on winning the top prize. Even in the high of yesterday’s win, the Chiefs want to win again next year. You’re a fool to think that they are satisfied with just one. It’s a laser focus.
What are you laser-focused on achieving this year? What positive moves will you make to achieve it? What junk and noise will you blot out? What naysayers will you ignore? Who will you embrace that is trying to help you succeed? Who will you inspire to help make the vision a reality?
Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman.