How to Win When You Appear to Be Losing: 7 Tips from Super Bowl 51

Millions of us watched in amazement as the Atlanta Falcons dominated the first half of Super Bowl 51. The favored champion New England Patriots appeared weak and ineffective. Plagued by incomplete passes, multiple sacks and hits and short yardage gains, quarterback Tom Brady and the team seemed off. Up 21-3 at the half, the Falcons left the stadium on fire.Super Bowl image

The third quarter continued the crush as the Falcons scored a touchdown on the opening drive. At 28-3, statistics were against New England as no Super Bowl team had ever come back from such a deficit. Even commentator Joe Buck was concerned – time was running out.

As I watched the game unfold, I was struck by the calm of Tom Brady. Sure he looked frustrated at times, but he never lost his cool. Despite the tremendous lack of points and the clock ticking down, the team seemed unhurried. And then the unthinkable happened. Play by play, the Patriots scored 25 unanswered points, tying the game and leading it into an unprecedented overtime. We all know what happened next: the biggest win in the history of the Super Bowl. How did this happen? How do you overcome what appear to be invincible odds? Here are seven tips based on my observations of the game. You can use these to achieve success in anything.

  1. Focus on the NOW. Commit to each “play” as a new opportunity. There are infinite possibilities in the present.
  2. Let go of the misses. Let go of what just happened or what happened historically. Release the emotion of perceived failure.
  3. Don’t get in a hurry. Don’t let external circumstances rock your game. You may need to shift your approach, but take a breath and continue to do your thing your way.
  4. Keep getting up. Be resilient. Tom Brady was sacked repeatedly and hit many times yet he never appeared flustered. He just got back up. Goal achievement is not a linear process. You will get knocked down and knocked off course. You must get back up.
  5. Go for the extras. Twice the Patriots attempted two-point conversions after a touchdown. This can be risky, but it worked both times. As Wayne Gretsky said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Taking chances is what separates the greats from the pretty goods. Tom Brady even ran for a few yards to get a first down, a super risky move for a quarterback.
  6. Follow your leader. Have respect for your leaders and do what they say. I saw a few questionable play calls that the Patriots attempted (e.g., onside kick-yikes!). Some resulted in no yardage or low yardage and used up a lot of the clock. But the team did what was asked and trusted its coaches and quarterback.
  7. Play all the way through. Don’t quit before it’s over. Momentum and morale are funny things and can shift in an instant. They are invisible yet palpable. Mental toughness is key. In my experience for myself and clients, success can be just one moment away from your darkest hour. Stay committed and persevere to the end.

Never give up. Things can change in an instant. New possibilities emerge. Be ready. I’ve worked with hundreds of professionals and I know for sure that if you want something bad enough, you can make it happen. If you have a big goal and would like support, contact me to set up a complimentary consultation. Play on – the world needs your greatness!

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Shari J. Goodwin is a business strategist, leadership coach, speaker, and author of the Amazon best seller, “Take the Reins! 7 Secrets to Inspired Leadership.” A four-time entrepreneur and corporate leader, she and her husband live with their three rescue dogs and four horses on a farm in Virginia.