Seattle V. New England - How to Win SB XLIX

There’s only 12 days until America’s favorite holiday.

Sorry, little correction: It’s the 2nd favorite food holiday after Thanksgiving. 

Yes, sports fans, I’m talking about Super Bowl Sunday!!

It’s now less than two weeks away, and that means it’s time to start cooking.   

Sports commentators and ESPN experts will spend the next two weeks breaking down how the Patriots and Seahawks won their respective games. They’ll analyze every aspect of the game and from every angle.  You’ll begin to wonder how did football became some complicated.

Let’s face it: They’re going measure and compare the minutiae of the game until we’re all tired of listening and wishing for the game to just start.   

However, most of the pundits will miss the obvious edge that helped New England and Seattle reach the Super Bowl.

Well, to be fair, one ESPN commentator, Trent Dilfer, got it right.

The Patriots and Seahawks gave us a great business and life lesson, and Trent referenced it in his comments on ESPN Radio. The key to the wins, he said, was that both teams played without fear. 

Neither team was concerned about the outcome. You may think that’s crazy, but hear me out! I didn’t say they didn’t care about the outcome. Of course, they cared. There was a lot at stake. What I mean is, they weren’t worried about the outcome; they didn’t fear it. So, when bad things happened, they didn’t freak out.

They played last Sunday’s games as if they were like every other game they’ve played this season.

In many ways they were detached from the outcome.

Still have your doubts? Let’s switch to golf and ask Greg Norman about his experience at the ’96 Masters. He was attached to the outcome and ended up losing his Green Jacket. He played tight, and, as a result, had one of the biggest collapses in the history of golf. 

What about the last time YOU really wanted to succeed at something? How tense were you? How did that affect your game? 

When you detach from the outcome, you can play without fear. You play loose; the game slows down, and you get “in the zone.” 

When you play in the zone, the game is easier and you increase the possibility that you can respond rather than react.   

It was easy to see that the Packers and Seahawks experienced different levels of outcome attachment. The Seahawks, who played poorly for 45 minutes, were able to execute an incredible comeback because they were responding and playing loose. The Packers? Well, not so much.

Tension alters a player’s focus, causes more stress, and affects performance.

And it can happen at work and in life to us mere mortals, as well. 

I recently started hosting a Blog Talk Radio program. For the record, I consider myself a business leadership coach and motivational speaker, but I don’t consider myself a radio personality. I’m a pure rookie.

For my 2nd show, I booked a guest I never imagined I could secure. I became wickedly attached to the outcome. I certainly wasn’t treating this interview the same as any other interview in my career. As a result, when I experienced a technology roadblock, I was no longer able to respond appropriately. Instead, I started reacting. I lost my focus and my less-than-ideal energy cascaded throughout day. 

When you are faced with unexpected roadblocks in your workday, do you respond calmly with confidence, or do you react and make it worse?

Did you know it’s possible to be in the zone at work and in life, as well as on the playing field? 

Last Sunday, the Seahawks and the Patriots demonstrated the power and value of coaching. All NFL teams have talent—that goes without saying.  Well, maybe not the Raiders.  Coaching often gives a team an advantage because they set the tone and create the culture.  Just like business leaders do.  

Both Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, the coaches for the Patriots and Seahawks, respectively, know that their teams’ beliefs, emotions, and actions are connected to their performance. They know that the team that plays without fear or in the zone has the best chance of detaching from the outcome and winning the Super Bowl.

Which team will become the Super Bowl Champs on Feb. 1? I’m not sure. As a lifelong Bills and Broncos fan, I’ve learned to enjoy the commercials and my Dinosaur BBQ on Super Bowl Sunday. So please pass me another chicken wing. I’m in the zone.

Patriots vs. Seahawks?  Share your prediction below.