Sunday was a big day in Seattle sports history. The Seahawks were playing in the NFC Championship game, at home, against the Green Bay Packers. As the season began….so it would end. These two had faced off in game one, and it seemed fitting they would battle it out for the trip to Superbowl 49.
Usually I watch the Seahawks games with Seahawks fans. We are a homogenous group. We cheer at the same time, for the same plays, we groan and throw our hands in the air when we think the zebras get it wrong, and we enthusiastically high 5 and hug each other when we get a touchdown or interception. It’s easy to be a fan when you are all cheering for the same team.
However, for this game I met up with one of my oldest childhood chums, the above mentioned Packer Super Fan - his name is Jack, to watch this epic game. He’s been a Packer Fan since he was a boy, and has clear conviction about why he has such respect for the team and some of the key players.
The other thing you need to know about Super Fan Jack, is he has strong opinions about many things and doesn’t hesitate to share his thoughts passionately and loudly. Not just about football, but about life, business, sportsmanship, competition, faith, family and the list goes on and on. A great skill for us all to consider…..but I’ll save that for a future post.
As we maneuvered our way through downtown Seattle, I was keenly aware of the outnumbering of the Packer fans by the Seahawks faithful. And as the day went on I began to see parallels in business from being with my Super Fan friend.
How Clear Is Your Conviction
When asked how long he has been a Packer fan and how a boy from the state of Washington became a Packer fan. Jack can quickly hop into an engaging story about his passion for his team and the journey he’s been on as a fan. I’ve never seen anyone tilt their head to the side in the universal…”yeah I don’t get it” signal when he speaks of the team and the players. It takes maybe a minute, isn’t canned or rehearsed. Just from the heart.
Can you do this in your business? We often get caught up in our heads thinking we have to have the perfect elevator pitch - but we miss the heart of the message. Can you with intent and passion share with people who ask you about your business, what you do, why it matters and who cares? Avoiding the head tilt of confusion?
Are You Willing To Be Loud and Proud
Whether you are cheering for or wearing the jersey of your favorite team, as I mentioned above, it’s “easy” to do that when everyone around is cheering for the same outcome. But what if you are in the minority? Jack and his Packer fan friends didn’t just quietly cheer for their team, dressed in beige- they made a lot of noise, they wore their jerseys and their cheeseheads calling out to each other, “Go Pack Go” as they passed in the street and in the bars. They stayed rooted in their support of The Pack, all the while knowing they were in the minority. I imagine it could be a little intimidating, and yet they did it.
Where in your business do you downplay your passion or enthusiasm for what you do? Do you try and blend in or are you willing to stand out? Regardless of the size of your business are you willing to be visible - sharing your mission and purpose everywhere you go. Don’t be intimidated to give voice to your work in the world, if you aren’t sharing your work - how are the people you are meant to serve going to find you?
When You Are Having Spectacular Success Can You Celebrate and Maintain Humility
Green Bay dominated the first half of the game. Their players were firing on all cylinders and the Seahawks seemed a little flat. In our little pub downtown - there were only two visible Packer fans in the joint - Jack being one of them.
It’s easy to get some serious jawing happening when you are winning. It’s easy to get caught up in conversations that quickly turn disrespectful and unsportsmanlike. I was so impressed by the two Packers at our table who definitely celebrated the accomplishments of their team….LOUDLY - and were equally quick to compliment the Seahawks on a good block, or a good play.
(As a side note - I was proud of The Seahawk Fans at this establishment - who kept it classy, and in fact one fan came to the table and shook hands with our Packer Super Fan and said, “Good luck today - we’re glad you are here.")
In business as in sports it is easy to get caught up in pointing out the competitions shortcomings, sometimes mocking them or speaking unkindly or hurling insults. In reality it is more of a reflection on you. The words we use have power, and people make judgements about what you are saying and how you are saying it. If you are always bashing the competition with rarely a good thing to say you will be judged by that attitude. Be quick to acknowledge a competitor’s success and evaluate it for your own purposes - using it as a way to shorten a learning curve or to achieve a similar results in your company.
How Do You Handle Disappointment
A loss seemed imminent for The Seahawks - 2 minutes left in the game, down by 5 points. Fans were leaving the stadium. And in those two minutes the game shifted and ends in a tie, and in overtime The Seahawks win.
People are leaving before the game is over for a team that has said all along they play through until the end. Do you in your business play all the way through until the end? Or do you get out right before you could break through?
In a span of roughly 3 minutes - our Packer fans were deeply disappointed. After a brilliantly played game, with amazing competitive spirit their disappointment in the midst of a sea of Hawks jubilation was nearly deafening.
It took our Packer fans some time to regroup and in the true nature of great sportsmanship were able to congratulate the fans around them, and receive the sincere, “Great game” sentiments that were conveyed.
It reminded me the importance of pausing in business. Often taking a few minutes or even a few days before responding will give you the space to reframe the situation, or at least be in a better head space to address what is coming your way. It doesn’t ease the disappointment, but it will surely better prepare you for being in a better state of mind.
What are some of your favorite lessons sports have taught you that you use in your business?
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