What the Big Game Can Teach You About Business

Yesterday, millions of Americans gathered in front of TV sets to watch pro football’s biggest game. In 2015, 114.4 million people watched, making it the most-watched TV program in U.S. history. That might explain why companies paid $4.4 to 4.5 million for a 30-second ad. Why do so many people like to tune in?

Some want to see the commercials, and others just want an excuse to hang out with friends. But many people love watching the battle of wits and will. The sport requires both brute strength and mental preparation. It’s a four-quarter chess match using 53 men instead of 16 game pieces with tackle after punishing tackle that would leave most people in a full-body cast. What’s not to love?

This combination of strategy and execution doesn’t only play out in sports. You also need both elements to lead a successful business.

Strategy Is Your Game Plan

Building a business without a strategy is like coaching a football team without a game plan. No coach would walk into the locker room and announce, “I know we can beat these guys, but I have no idea how to do it. You’ll have to figure it out on the field.” You’ve probably watched games that looked like that happened! No team survives without strategy. See where I’m going here? Your business cannot win if you don’t have a game plan. The competition would crush you.

Where do you want your business to be a year from now? Five years from now? Ten? Once you know where you want to be, you can think about how to get there. Which team members can put your strategy into action? What new technology or other assets will you need to buy? What is your timeline for completion? Strategy is that big-picture thinking. You can’t hope to make your business successful if you don’t step back and take a look at the 30,0000-foot view.

Execution Is Running the Plays

Once you know your game plan, you still have to run the plays effectively. Plays are just X’s and O’s without good execution. Focus on the actions that move your business forward, not just the crisis of the day. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” Responding to email constantly is seldom important. Neither is the broken copier. Allow your team to run those plays. That’s why they’re on your team. You need to focus your attention and energy on those things that only you can do. You also need to acknowledge that you can’t do everything. Work in your strengths and let others do the same.

One More Truth to Learn From Football

Perseverance. Every season is demanding and grueling, and it takes pure passion, grit and determination to finish strong. The same can be said of running your own business. You know that—or you wouldn’t be reading this article. As the famous coach Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” Whatever obstacle you face, choose to persevere. Keep going. Take one more step. And the trophy—the success of your business—will be worth every obstacle.