It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over...
So if you were in the US over the weekend, you couldn't help but experience the Event that is the Super Bowl, played this year between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. The biggest sporting event in America, it is a tour de force of strategy, marketing, hype, glitz and glamor. Oh, and a bit of (American) football, as well.
Usually, as is often the case in many major sporting events, the finales can be anticlimactic.
Not this one.
If you don't already know, by the end of the 3rd quarter, with only a quarter remaining, the Atlanta Falcons had sped into a 28-9 lead. (For those who follow sports such as soccer, that's kind of like a 4-1 or 5-1 lead with about 20 minutes of the game left.)
At that point, the goal of the winning team should be too shut up shop, bide your time and lift the trophy. Essentially, everyone had written off the New England Patriots.
Everyone, that is, except the Patriots themselves.
Through some combination of grit, determination, strategy and talent, the Patriots rallied to score 19 unanswered points in the final quarter to push the game into overtime, in which they then went on to win with a touchdown. Probably the most incredible comeback in the history of the game. Possibly, according to some, the greatest Super Bowl ever.
We've seen great teams do this in all manner of sports.
Team USA in the 2013 America's Cup.
Nick Faldo in the 1996 US Masters.
Liverpool beating AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final.
Arsenal coming back from behind to beat Hull City in the 2014 FA Cup Final.
The 2016 Chicago Cubs.
How are they able to do this when everyone 'knows' the game is over? When most teams would have accepted their fate and played to close out the game? When most of us know that 'the odds' aren't with us or our team?
Simple - because they play to the whistle. They know that they need to play to the final whistle. That anything - absolutely anything - is possible.
It's cliched to say that this is what separates the winners from the losers, but it's true.
Great teams know that they control events, and not the other way around.
Great teams have an unstoppable belief in themselves. Not born out of sheer will, but frankly, practiced determination.
Great teams trust in their ability to go back to the fundamentals, to execute the basics needed to get themselves back on track when times are toughest.
Great teams keep going until they can't go anymore.
Until they win.
Yes, you can argue about bad calls, and refs, and a lack of belief in the opposing team, all you want. But you still need the other side to realize, chin up and get their act together to capitalize on it.
These things don't happen by luck. Luck is bullshit.
They happen by sheer force of will. By determination. By work. By thoughtful execution of the basics.
It's worth remembering that the next time we're in a bind, a difficult spot, a situation we think cannot get any worse.
Buckle down, focus on fundamentals, work your ass off, put one foot in front of the other, and get shit done.
It's down to whether you believe you can do it. Or not.