The pursuit of perfection in football is talked about every year. At the top of the college football world, the chase for the undefeated season is understandable, as computer rankings determine which two teams get the opportunity to contend for the BCS National Championship. In the NFL however (although not impossible) achieving the perfect record has not been accomplished in 40 years, which makes the 17-0, 1972 Miami Dolphins feat that much more impressive.
Perfection and pressure go hand-in-hand and on the sports landscape, that is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the “football is king” South. This past weekend, the South was once again the epicenter of the college football world as the nation’s top team, the Alabama Crimson Tide, lost their shot at an undefeated season at home in Tuscaloosa to the upstart Texas A&M Aggies and standout freshman quarterback, Johnny Manziel (a.k.a. Johnny Football). The next day in Louisiana, an unbeaten Atlanta Falcons squad found itself bounced out of the Bayou with an 8-1 record after falling to the New Orleans Saints. Despite Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan’s impressive performance Atlanta could not escape the Superdome with an unblemished record.
I think it is safe to say that despite the losses, both former unbeaten teams are still pretty good. And just because you aren’t perfect doesn’t mean you aren’t successful.
Football parallels life in many ways and like America’s favorite sport, we all face situations in life and work where our desire to be successful is impacted by society’s pressure for us to be perfect. This rings especially true for high profile athletes, celebrities, politicians, etc. However, everyone will fall short at some point.
So what do you do?
You keep going.
Regardless of whether teams win or lose a game, they take a step back and regroup. They analyze what happened. They look at how and where they can improve for the next game. We should all apply this approach to every situation we face and how we handle it moving forward.
In my profession, you hear our analysts discuss “the keys to success/victory” every week. Well, the “key to success” in our personal and professional lives is to understand that although we should strive to be the best we can at whatever we do we must also understand that we will not win every game and we will not be perfect. But, we will have opportunities to improve each week.
Remember, since 1972, every team that has won the Super Bowl was not perfect. So how did they do it? They kept moving forward and focused on being the best they could the next time out.
The lesson? Keep moving forward.