Big games often have memorable storylines and can serve as a source of motivation in our entrepreneurial lives. Super Bowl 51 was no exception. In fact, it has now been deemed the best Super Bowl of all-time by several sources after the Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit in the second half. It was insane to watch.
Despite not being a Falcons or Patriots fan, this year’s NFL championship game was inspiring, teaching many valuable entrepreneurial lessons in the process. And it put Tom Brady into the history books as the undisputed greatest quarterback of all-time… he now has five Super Bowl rings and four championship game MVP awards.
Nothing fails like success: The Falcons looked incredible in the first half, unbeatable you might say. Their offense routinely marched down the field on the league’s stingiest defense; and even the Falcons’ secondary scored a pick 6.
After the first half most fans thought it was going to be a blowout. One of my friends over for the game, a staunch Patriots fan, said his team was “finished.” But the tide turned in the third quarter after Matt Ryan, the Falcons QB, was sacked and fumbled. At that moment, the demeanor of the Falcons changed. You could see players routinely looking up at the scoreboard, likely counting down the seconds just hoping the Patriots would run out of time and not be able to catch up.
While the Falcons played near perfect football in the first half, they rested on their laurels in the second. Maybe they stopped believing in themselves once they turned the ball over. Or maybe they felt the first half was a bit of luck. Whatever the case, you could see it in their body language that they didn’t believe they were better than the Patriots.
Hardest workers are often the most successful: Tom Brady has been in the NFL for 17 years. Before this season, he had four Super Bowl rings, three Super Bowl MVP awards and a treasure trove of other professional accomplishments and accolades. The guy, you could say, had already earned his keep. But that didn’t change Brady’s work ethic throughout the season…
According to the Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, at 39 Tom Brady is still the hardest worker on the team, stays late watching film, and is open to criticism from the coaching staff. He always wants to learn and improve, an invaluable and necessary characteristic of a leader (and successful entrepreneur). Young players on the team see Brady’s work ethic and openness to criticism and instantly buy into the Patriots’ brand of football. Brady’s mindset and drive are contagious.
Never quit and finish strong: As cliche as it may sound, perseverance is key to success. Dallas Mavericks’ owner and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban believes it is the most important trait an entrepreneur can have. At one point in the 3rd quarter of Super Bowl 51, oddsmakers estimated that the New England Patriots had a 98.9% chance of losing the game… need I say more?
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Expectancy: Every time the Patriots step on the field they expect to win. You can see it in their demeanor on the sidelines. Same with how they behave in press conferences. There is a level of confidence and professionalism not seen in any other team. It’s not blatant bravado, but rather a level of calmness and belief seen in people who have won big before and realize they can do it again…
The Patriots confidence comes from their strong leadership and thoroughly preparing for battle. Preparation is the key to confidence. If you’re making a big pitch, know your material inside and out. Know your competition and the tactics they use. Be ready for criticism. Be prepared for adversity and challenges. Appreciate the learning opportunity in every crisis. And embrace being uncomfortable. That’s how you grow.
Find your sweet spot – don’t force anything: As an entrepreneur, you need to fill in the holes the market hasn’t. Don’t force the issue. Look for built-in advantages; and weaknesses in your competition’s game.
In Super Bowl 51, Tom Brady rather quietly threw for a championship game record of 466 yards. In that record-breaking performance, there were no real flashy deep balls, just simple 7-15 yard passes. That’s what the Falcons defense left open, so Brady systematically exploited it.
By taking what the competition gave him, Brady shattered records and became the greatest quarterback ever to live. It wasn’t flashy, but it achieved unprecedented results. A great lesson.
Super Bowl 51 was a hell of a game. I think I’ll watch it again at some point to appreciate the accomplishment by the Patriots, and Brady, just a little more. As entrepreneurs, we can draw much from that game. Most notably, it provided a glimpse into what it takes to be great.
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