Major league football players are not that different from you and me. They, too, are entrepreneurs. They have a job to do, a mission to uphold and a game to win.
All of us are in business, fighting hard each day to hold onto the ball because we know that when it comes for accomplishing something amazing, the playing field is even so we are just as likely to come out the victor as the next guy.
Here are seven lessons on entrepreneurship I learned from Super Bowl XLIX and my team, the New England Patriots.
1. Embrace the chip.
The entrepreneurs who build massive empires are sometimes the ones with a massive chip on their shoulder. They have been doubted, ridiculed and dismissed and instead of lamenting this they prove everyone wrong.
Some people can’t handle a chip on their shoulder while others turn it into fuel to fire them up to the moon. Early in his career Steve Jobs was placed on the Macintosh team but “deeply resentful that he had been kicked off the team building the Lisa,” according to an Los Angeles Times recounting of Walter Isaacson’s biography of the maverick tech leader. Jobs’ multiple successes at Apple are well-known.
The best thing going for The New England Patriots was the Deflategate scandal, so called because the team was found to have used some “underinflated” footballs in a critical game before the Super Bowl. This led some observers to question if this had been done on purpose, casting doubts over the players’ ability to win on their own merits.
Talk about having a chip on their shoulders. There was no way the Patriots were leaving Arizona without the championship.
2. Love your haters.
Yet great teams and great entrepreneurs can use something like this to increase their momentum.
When I rebranded my company last year, a former co-worker who had been a good friend, told a group of my sales agents that my firm, Laer Realty Partners, would go down in flames.
Ever since I heard about this remark, I do whatever it takes every single day to make her eat those words. She has driven my business to amazing heights and doesn’t even know it. Love your haters!
3. Never discount a team member.
It was a rookie player for the Patriots who caught the game-winning interception toward the end of the Super Bowl. That’s not possible unless you have a team in which every single member has the confidence to make a game-winning play.
Look around at your team. Does everyone know that he or she is just as important as the next player? Are your team members empowered to make hard plays at your company? If so, you’re building a championship team.
4. Play your A game even when losing.
Even if you’re at the end of your rope, with everything going against you, bring your A game to your business. The Seattle Seahawks were one simple play away from being world champions with only two minutes left on the clock.
What if the Patriots had believed that, too, and gave up trying? Yes, the Seahawks were one simple play away from taking the championship, but the Patriots knew this was true for their team, too.
Even when the odds are against you in business, it’s never over until it’s over. Bring your A game to the office every single day or don’t show up at all.
5. Bring extreme focus.
The best entrepreneurs are the ones who can shoulder extreme stress. This requires absolute focus on the most important job at hand. Everyone on the Super Bowl field has a task. And for every task, there are a boatload of distractions: people running at you from all directions, fans booing, coaches flailing orders from the sidelines.
The distractions are endless. So it is with entrepreneurship. Make sure that each team member knows the one thing that he or she needs to do really well and teach everyone to ignore the rest. Focus amid the stress wins championships and builds empires.
6. Remain humble.
Do not celebrate a win until it’s fully won and when you do win, do so humbly. Your competition probably worked just as hard as you did to be where it is. Give rivals credit and even a pat on the back. By celebrating a win before you’ve won, it’s hard to hold your head high if you lose.
7. Take a time-out
During one play, the Patriots took a time-out despite having just a few seconds left on the clock, giving someone like Brady time to restrategize with the coaches.
When you see that your competition or the market is taking a zig when you expected a zag, take a time-out and restrategize.