I am still reeling from the Denver Broncos’ shocking loss to the Seattle Seahawks last week. The defeat of the No. 1 offense of all time by the No. 1 defense of 2013. How did that happen?
As a true fan, I was predicting a future outcome based on past results. The first offensive play marked the transition from kickoff to offense. While I knew that the Broncos always preferred kicking off in the first half, I was confident that the number one offense would show up. I was equally confident that the solid defense that had stymied San Diego and then New England in the AFC Champion game would likewise show up. But that transitional play, in fact, signaled my stillborn hope.
From the moment Broncos center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball past Manning on the first play from scrimmage, the Seahawk’s defense became a jaw-jacking, free-wheeling, relentless unit.
— Mike Klis, Denver Post
K.J. Wright, Seahawks linebacker, put it this way: “The first play of the game, when they snapped the ball over their head, I was like, ‘All right, man. We got these boys.’ If you start the game off like that, something’s not right. When that happened, I was like, ‘All right man, I got my nerves calmed down,’ and I was like, ‘Okay, I believe we got this one.’”
Wright captured the attitude of not only the Legion of Boom but also every phase of the Seahawk’s team. That single transition at the start of the game set off a series of falling dominoes. Starting with the Broncos surrendering a touchback to a seemingly inconsequential 0-2 deficit, that deficit crept up to 0-5, then 0-8 and, by half-time, a concerning but not insurmountable 0-22 deficit.
In hindsight, what we observed in that first play was cliché; whether you believe you’ve lost or you’ve won, you are right. The Broncos’ loss stemmed from confidence lost as the ball whizzed by Manning’s head. What was lost was not just two points, but their sense of identity as the number one offensive of all time.
What might we business owners learn from this game? It’s about as useful for any owner to rest on our past laurels as it is to predict future returns based on past returns of the stock market. Regardless of whether you’ve created the equivalent of the most productive offensive team in NFL history or not, what matters is what you believe on any given day.
What you believe is likely how you will execute.
What is your true (No. 1) self? What can you do to prepare you and your team for your every day Super Bowl? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
• Share stories among employees and clients that reinforce your culture.
• Encourage employees to catch one another doing something right and then, on the spot, to let one another know what s/he did.
• Put the “bad play” behind you quickly and choose to return to your usual methods of execution.