Monday, February 3, 2014

What the Super Bowl Taught Me

Like practically everyone else in America, last night, I watched the Super Bowl. We had some friends over for the game and munched happily on Buffalo chicken drummies. No, not chicken wings, but drumsticks prepared like wings, but better using a Sandra Lee recipe I saw on the Today Show and perfectly executed by my wife.

The game itself seemed to be almost anti-climactic after all the all day pregame hype. This morning I woke up with a start and realized that there was a valuable lesson I had learned watching the game last night. I just had to share it with you and I hope you will find it useful also.

Near the end of the game last night, they showed one of the NFL officials carrying the Vince Lombardi trophy, that Tiffany silver football on a stand that is emblematic of excellence in the game of football. I've seen the six that my favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have won and they are awesome.

But, I digress. After they showed the man carrying the trophy with white gloves, they then flashed a picture of the steely-eyed man after whom the trophy is named.,Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach who won the first two Super Bowls.  Of course, what immediately came to mind was his famous declaration that "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."  Quite frankly, I used to think that his statement was an arrogant manifestation of someone with a huge ego. Today, we are prone to tell our kids and ourselves that it is okay if you lose: "It's not important if you win or lose, it's how you play the game" is the mantra we repeat often to those children and ourselves.

After the game was over, during one of the interviews with one of the Seattle players, he said something that particularly resonated with me.  When asked how he felt about winning the Super Bowl, he said  that he had watched many Super Bowls on television over the years and now thought about himself and his teammates, "Why not us?"

"Why not us."  What could he possibly mean by that.? This morning it struck me like a lightning bolt. Earlier yesterday before the game, I was doing some research for a new book on negotiations that I am in the process of writing. One of the sources I was consulting was a book by the famed trial attorney, Gerry Spence.  In his book, "How to Argue and Win Every Time", he puts forth the following thesis:  In order to win an argument, whether a court case or a negotiation over a contract, you must give yourself permission to win. And the most important corollary to that is that you must never give yourself permission to lose.

Last night, that was what drove the Seattle Seahawks, the underdogs going  into the game. They not only gave themselves permission to win, they never gave themselves permission to lose. That's what that Seattle player meant when he said, "Why not us?"

And I now understand that was also what Vince Lombardi meant all those years ago, when he made that famous statement: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."  He means never give yourself permission to lose.  Oh, believe me, sometimes you will lose, whether it is a court case or some kids' soccer game. But if you have the mindset that you will not give yourself permission to lose,who knows, some day you or your kid may end up holding that Vince Lombardi trophy also.

Think about it.

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