4 Lessons from the Super Bowl

Xperience Growthblogposts

By: Carter Williams, Director of Xperience Growth Coaching & Consulting

It’s the yearly spectacle that gets the more American viewers than anything else. Some watch for the entertainment, some watch for the commercials and, yes, a few people actually watch for the football.

I watch for all that… plus, what I can learn for the event. This post is all about the 4 biggest lessons that I took away.

Lesson #1: Tom Brady doesn’t fold

I could not write about the Super Bowl without starting with Tom Brady. He is – inarguably – one of, if not the greatest, quarterbacks to play the game. He won his 7th Super Bowl this year in his 11th appearance in the big game.

Early in the first quarter, they flashed a stat about Brady’s points scored, touchdowns and interceptions in his 10 previous Super Bowl appearances by quarter.

It’s staggering to see his results in the first quarter of the game. 3 points in 150 minutes of football. Until this week, not a single touchdown and only 1 field goal. Brady is the most winningest quarterback in the Super Bowl and his starts to the game would suggest otherwise.

What else is staggering? His points in the 2nd quarter… He followed up “unsuccessful” first quarters with stellar 2nd quarters. This shows the faith in himself and his team. He does not allow setbacks to determine his trajectory.

Consider these questions:

Who would Tom Brady be if he allowed his 1st quarter performance to affect his 2nd quarter performance?

Where in our life do we allow early setbacks to derail us?

Lesson #2: Sarah Thomas – First Female Super Bowl Official

Sarah Thomas made history being the first female referee in the Super Bowl. In order to have the opportunity to be a referee in the game, you have to be one of the top officials in the league that year. It’s not a popularity contest or luck of the draw. The head of NFL officials handpicks referees based on their performance. Sarah Thomas is one of the best.

Her story of how she got here is what’s really interesting to me… She began to referee after college to stay connected to sports. She started by refereeing grade school games nearly 20 years ago. She moved up to high school, got better at her craft and in 2006 was hired by Conference USA where she was the first woman to officiate a major college football game. In 2009, Thomas became the first woman to officiate a college bowl game. Two years later, she was the first female to officiate in a Big 10 (a major football conference) stadium.

During this time, she was a pharmaceutical sales representative and became a mother to three kids.

In 2015 she quit her sales rep job when she was hired by the NLF and broke the record again being the first woman to be the first permanent official in the league. Four years later, in 2019 she was the first female to officiate a NFL playoff game and then this year, she earned her spot in the Super Bowl.

She is quoted as saying that her goal is to be the best that she can be at her position. And, she is one of the best.

Focusing on being the best you can be allows us to get the results that we earn. And, it took 10 years from her first college hire to make it to the NLF and 5 years after that to earn her spot in the Super Bowl. She is not an overnight success, she’s a work in progress… and broke barriers along the way!

Consider these questions:

Where do we beat ourselves up over the time it takes to get something vs. looking at our steady progress towards being our best?

When have we been too discouraged and given up on too early?

Lesson #3: Unforced Penalties are Costly

In the first half, the Kansas City Chiefs committed eight penalties, which amounted to 95 years in Tampa Bay’s favor. They earned the unfortunate record of committing the most penalties in a half. The previous record was four.

Here’s the thing about penalties… they happen. This is true in football and in life. When we move too fast or do something new we make mistakes. That happens. It’s different from unforced errors, when we make mistakes because of carelessness. What we find is that unforced penalties can really catch up to us… just like it did with the Chiefs.

In the 2nd quarter, the Chief’s Tyrann Mathieu appeared to intercept a Tom Brady pass. He would have, if not for a defensive holding penalty on Charvarius Ward. The player Ward was defending was not near the ball, making that an unforced penalty. That came at a steep price. Instead of giving the ball back to the Kansas City offense down 7-3, on the next play, Brady threw a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, which put Tampa Bay up 14-3.

Towards the end of the half, the Chiefs were down only 14-6 and held Tampa Bay to a long field goal attempt with some time left to let their offense back on the field. On the field goal attempt, Mecole Hardman for the Chiefs lined up offsides, meaning that before the play even started, he committed a penalty. It doesn’t get more unforced than that! Because of the penalty, Tampa Bay kept the ball and went on to score a touchdown to go up 21-6 at halftime. Those unforced errors, especially when coupled with the other penalties, shifted the balance of the game and put the Chiefs in a hole they simply couldn’t get out of.

Consider this question:

Where do we make unforced penalties?

Lesson #4: It’s all about the Talent

The migration of Tom Brady from New England to Tampa Bay has been well chronicled. Brady is still at the top of his game, even into his 40’s. Spotting his level of talent is relatively easy.

Think about your business… If one of the best people in your industry or your market was interested in joining your team, the only question would be “how can I make this work?”

To me, the talent story is more than Brady. Tampa Bay surrounded Brady with talent. Tampa Bay scored 4 touchdowns in the Super Bowl. Brady threw for 3 touchdowns. His first two were to Gronkowski, who was new to Tampa this year. The other receiver to catch a touchdown was Antonio Brown, who Tampa Bay signed in October of this year. The other touchdown was scored by Leonard Fournette, who Tampa Bay signed in September.

All four players who accounted for the touchdowns Tampa Bay scored were new to the team this year. What are the chances they are Super Bowl champs without the talent they found and acquired this season? Probably not good.

In our businesses, are we focused on placing the right talent on the team at the right time to win our version of the Super Bowl? If it worked for Tampa Bay, it can work for us. We have to be able to know what we’re looking for and know where to find it! If that’s an area where you can grow stronger, learn more about Talent + with Holly Priestner, a group coaching program starting Feb 24th.

Consider these questions:

What people have we not yet signed that are the key to us winning it all?

Who are our most important players?

Even if we will never win the actual Super Bowl, we can certainly take some lessons away from the folks that actually do.