Related: What Football Teaches About Building High-Performance Teams
There are so many incredible life lessons the game has taught me as well as prepared me mentally, emotionally, even physically, to win and thrive in the game of business.
The awesome thing about football is that you don’t need to be a former NFL player like me to take away key lessons from the game. This past Monday, we fans were fortunate to witness what turned out to be an amazing College Football National Championship game pitting the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Both of these dominant football teams battled to the very last minute and provided an unbelievable experience for millions of viewers: After trailing for a good portion of the game, Alabama was able to come out victorious in overtime and win its fifth national championship in nine years.
Not only was this championship game spectacular to watch, it also provided key business lessons that we can all adopt and utilize in our own lives and businesses. Here are three key takeaways all entrepreneurs and business leaders can benefit from.
1. Never stop fighting.
This sounds self-evident, but the importance of never giving up and continuing to fight for a goal or dream you are incredibly passionate about can't be talked about enough in entrepreneurship and business. Alabama’s gritty performance was a perfect example that no matter how bad things get, if you keep fighting and focusing on the present moment, great things will come your way.
That was Alabama's story right through the sluggish first half; it looked like Georgia was going to run away with the game and win all.
In fact, Alabama went into halftime trailing Georgia by 13 points. But Alabama's players didn’t panic. They kept fighting through every adversity they encountered. Little by little, they got themselves back into the ballgame and attacked in overtime to seal the deal.
There will be many adversities and hardships that you come face to face with throughout your entrepreneurial journey, but when you possess grit and a "never-give-up" mentality, you will eventually turn it all around. Just as Alabama displayed on Monday night, champions, in both the business world and on the football field, never stop fighting.
2. Preparation breeds excellence.
One of the more spectacular stories from this game occurred when Alabama head coach Nick Saban decided to switch quarterbacks during halftime, when the Tide were down by 13 points: That's how freshman Tua Tagovailoa got his chance on the biggest stage in all of college football.
This young man gave Alabama the spark it desperately needed and he continued in that spirit right up to his winning touchdown pass. His presence and execution in what had to be the biggest game of his life was something that will be remembered for a long time. He was ready for his moment, and it paid off big-time. Regardless of where you currently stand right now, what you can learn fromTagovailoa's phenomenal performance was that preparation breeds excellence.
So, whether we're talking about a big sales presentation, your product's debut in the marketplace or your desire to experience tremendous personal growth, prepare as if your life and business depended on it, because they do. Complacency will never help you get to the next level. That's why you need to learn the ins and outs of your business, master everything you can about the marketplace and your industry and, most importantly, never stop looking to grow yourself as an individual.
A ridiculous amount of preparation followed by execution is what bridges the gap between good and great. Tua Tagovailoa is an amazing example of what happens when you prepare to be the best even if you aren’t the best just yet.
3. Acknowledge and constantly give praise to your team.
Tagovailoa’s performance on the field wasn't the only thing that shocked me. His ability to acknowledge and constantly give praise to his teammates in the postgame interviews, when everyone was specifically labeling him the hero, was nothing short of remarkable. He clearly understood that to truly win and be crowned a champion, on the field or in the business world, you never actually do it alone.
His offensive linemen had to block for him, the receivers had to catch the ball and the running backs had to be productive in the run game to open up the passing lanes. The same is true for you and your business.
You may be the one leading it all and out in front, but true leadership is about constantly giving praise to your team and those who help you every day to carry out your vision. This is one of the key ingredients to building a great culture and getting the most out of your people.
Giving credit to others will not only make you look good, but will have a positive impact on the lives of others by bringing the most out of people. And that's what matters most: You don’t need to wait for massive success in your business or some big-time interview to adopt this key lesson.