My Super Bowl Epilogue – Therapy for a 12 the Day After…

20140121-162057.jpgI’ve been asked my many of my faithful readers what my thoughts were on the end of the Super Bowl. They were surprised that I didn’t vent on my Extra Points, but that edition was written long before the game.

When I coached high school basketball, I had a 24-hour rule (especially after losses) on making statements to avoid allowing emotion take over. This one hurt…bad. Heartbreaking, tragic, and any other adjective on that level applies to me and my fellow 12s. There may even be a few lessons on leadership and management for all of us. You never know. So here it is…

Full disclosure…I expected and wanted Marshawn Lynch to carry the ball on 2nd down on the 1-yard line to score a go-ahead touchdown and win the Super Bowl. It’s what I (and about a gazillion other people including the Patriots) expected to happen. I still think it was a tragic error by Pete Carroll to call for a pass in that situation. But then again, I would have kicked a field goal with 6 seconds left in the first half. Which leads me to my first point…

  • You can’t have it both ways. Head Coach Pete Carroll has always been a gambler and as much as we sometimes cringe, we more often than not have ended up on the good side of the score. Have we forgotten last year’s 4th down completion to Jermaine Kearse for a touchdown against the 49’ers in the NFC Championship game that ended up being one of the critical game-changing plays? How about the fake field goal just 2 weeks ago versus Green Bay that resulted in our first touchdown? You live by the sword and you die by the sword. In truth, his instincts have been right more often than not.
  • Calling a pass in that situation (although I’m on record that I wanted the run) isn’t crazy. In fact, it’s a good option at that point with only one timeout left. My issue is the pass play itself. If you’re going to pass, put the ball in your point guard’s hands (i.e. Russell Wilson) and give him options to throw or run. Eliminate the necessity of perfect timing and a bunch of bodies clogging up the middle of the field. I watch every Seahawks game and I think they are more effective passing the ball in from the 1-yard line than running it. My issue is with the play.
  • Pete Carroll was right. The call was set up perfectly for the defense. If you watch the experts on ESPN or the NFL Network diagram it out, it was set up for success. Here’s my issue – I believe more in players than plays. If you have Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant running that route, fine. With all due respect to Ricardo Lockette, we don’t have that guy. The timing of the play requires that Wilson throw to a spot. Kearse didn’t get his job done in rubbing off the cornerback that eventually picked it off. The failure was in the execution and that happens when you put your trust on the play and not your best players. Our best players are Lynch and Wilson. We needed to give them the opportunity to win the game for us.
  • Let’s give a lot of credit to two Patriots on that last play – Malcolm Butler and Brandon Browner. Browner stood up the smaller in stature Kearse (in my opinion a coaching gaffe to have him there) and didn’t allow the legal pick. Butler, an undrafted rookie, made a brilliant move beating Lockette to the ball and then hanging on to it. That was an unbelievable play by him. Wilson’s ball was too high and needed to be in a spot that only Lockette could catch it. Give Butler credit for making him pay. Those guys on defense get paid, too. They out-executed us on that most important play and it won them a championship.
  • Pete Carroll took the blame. That’s what good leaders do. Russell Wilson took the blame, saying that he threw the pass. That’s what good leaders do. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Ricardo Lockette could have fought harder for the ball (twice). That’s bogus. While he may be entirely right, he threw his player under the bus. Lockette is a backup that makes his living as the gunner on special teams. He’s not even your best wide receiver. He’s good, but not special and that play required special. Bottom line is that even if you’re right in your assessment, you take the blame. That more than anything else can lead to dissension in the ranks. Bevell is not ready to be a head coach.
  • I read and hear people bashing the defense for their 4th quarter performance. The Seahawks were 18-0 heading into this game when leading by at least 10 points in the final quarter. Now 18-1. Here’s the deal – first of all, the Patriots are good. Really good. They have one of the best quarterbacks of all time and outstanding skill receivers. Second, I literally gulped when we lost Jeremy Lane. That was a huge loss because now the Hawks had to move Byron Maxwell into the slot and leave Therold Simon out there against these terrific wide receivers. Advantage Brady. Two of the touchdown passes (including he final one) were thrown against Simon. Third, losing Cliff Avril to a concussion was brutal. We lost our outside speed rusher and from that moment on, we never put the same pressure on Brady.
  • Injuries are part of the game, but let’s be candid here. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor were all banged up and not nearly close to 100%. You lose Lane and Avril during the game. The guys coming in are doing the best they can but it’s not the same. Brady will find weaknesses and exploit them. It’s not dissimilar to benefiting two weeks earlier from a gimpy Aaron Rodgers. The defense wasn’t the same because, well…it wasn’t the same.
  • I was asked about the mêlée at the end and must admit I wasn’t watching it live because I was off in the corner throwing my own little private tantrum. Let’s face it, highly charged guys in the heat of the moment can get into very emotional states at the worst time and that is unfortunate. For his part, Bruce Irvin issued an apology. What Doug Baldwin did earlier was indefensible. I like Baldwin a lot and have every time come to his defense, but on his touchdown celebration antic, I can’t. It hurt his team and it was embarrassing to the organization and the city. Knowing him to be a smart guy, I doubt it will happen again.
  • I look back at how close Marshawn was to scoring on the play before the interception. When he hit the 3-yard line, I thought he was in. Someone made a great tackle and isn’t getting credit for saving the game for the Pats. Damn.
  • If I hear one more knucklehead conspiracy theorist imply that the coaches actually decided to not give the ball to Lynch because they didn’t want him to be the MVP, then I might actually internally combust. These people are either still drunk, ignorant, or need concussion testing. C’mon, man.
  • To a fan with no dog in the hunt, it may have been the best Super Bowl of all time. That is of no solace to us on the losing end; in fact it makes it worse. This loss doesn’t sting. It hurts like a Kam Chancellor hit to the gut. You don’t get chances to make history all the time. It may never happen again. The NFL is set up for “anti-dynasties.” It will be hard to get back here again next year. I think I now know how Boston fans felt when the ball went through Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series or Buffalo fans when Scott Norwood’s game-winning FG strayed to the right in Super Bowl XXV.
  • I’m now way past “dazed and confused.” I’m getting over the “really, really angry” stage. Now, I’m just trying to gain perspective. All that within 24 hours shows some maturity and growth from me. Maybe that’s what happens when you get your AARP card in the mail.

My final thoughts – The coaching staff made the same mistake that many business people make. They were guilty of “over-thinking.” It’s always best to “stay in your lane” and do what you do best. The Monday Morning QB in me says you err on the side of winning or losing with your best players. With 26 seconds and one timeout left, you lean on Wilson and/or Lynch. If you’re going to pass, then give Russell options and outs, not precise timing patterns. That’s when he’s at his best. Damn again.

I know how much I am still hurting. As a former coach, I know it’s exponentially more painful for the players, coaches, and organization. It’s probably time for us soon to be part of the team and show them our support. You win and lose as a team. And we fancy ourselves part of the team, so time to act the part.

But (as a good colleague of mine always signs off with), that’s just me…

Extra Points – Never Give Up

This week’s focus point…Never Give UpJack and Dan

I admit it. I gave up. I was sitting forlornly at my brother-in-laws house with a group of people watching my beloved Seahawks losing at home in the NFC Championship game versus the Green Bay Packers. They’d played poorly. Nothing seemed to be working. And now with 4 minutes left, we had thrown another interception and were still down 9 points. It was over.

I won’t recount the crazy next 20 minutes, but the history books will show an improbable Seahawks victory in overtime. Listening to the post-game interviews from coach Pete Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, and several other players; it was clear they hadn’t quit. They were going down swinging; they still believed. Until that clock hit zero, they truly never gave up. That’s why they are going back to the Super Bowl.

Never give up. Ever. No matter what happens in your life or your career, never quit. Life is short and the opportunities abound even in what seem to be incalculable odds. Football and all sports are a microcosm of life. I hear people say that sports aren’t like real life. I disagree. They are “real life” for all the players and coaches that make it their career. They are real life for the fans that follow them. Your career and life are just as “real,” and often face the same anxiety, stress, and challenges that face teams in games and seasons. That’s why no matter how bleak things may look, never give up. You never now when that winning touchdown pass will happen for you!

© 2015 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

This week’s quote –

The 2015 Unleashed Executive Experience –Click here to learn more

Welcome to the most powerful and dynamic program I’ve ever created for business owners and executive leaders on unleashing your vast potential and maximizing your own unique talent and that of those around you.

My concept of the “open gate” is that unlike dogs, we as humans often tether ourselves inside our own personal gates and due to our own self-imposed limitations and fears, choose not to risk going through the open gate in front of us. The results include dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, poor leadership, bad morale, inefficiencies, and boredom. Bottom line is you and your business leave money and talent on the table.

 

What Are You Thinking?

Captain JackI love quotes. Depending on where I am in life, I’ve found them inspirational, humorous, and filled with perspective.

I saw one this morning while scanning Facebook that I’d like to share with you briefly. Of all things, it was attached to a message Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll sent out. Here it is…

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu

If you’ve spent any time reading my work, watching me speak, or working directly with me, you’ll know what an advocate I am of “being in the moment.” This quote has summed up that sentiment quite nicely, don’t you think?

I believe to truly learn from this quote, it requires self-assessment. If I were to be honest with myself, my weakness of the two poor options is the latter…being anxious and living in the future. I continually use coaching, mentoring, and accountability partners to keep me focused on the present, because it’s hard to do by yourself. What about you? Where is your propensity and what can you do to stay in the moment? This might be a good use of your time today to figure that question out…

© 2015 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Objects of Interest

Seahawks parade

A couple of days ago, I made my way to Seattle with a friend to join in the celebration of the Seattle Seahawks victory parade after the Super Bowl. In excess of what was anticipated, over 700,000 people crammed into about a 3-mile space to greet the returning heroes. It was an amazing scene. People ditched work, school, and other obligations to spend the day celebrating as a region. One of the remarkable things was that in all the turmoil of transportation woes, and other “challenges,” there wasn’t one arrest made. Talk about a peaceful party! (See photo you see is looking up from 4th Avenue to 5th Avenue. Believe it or not, there is supposed to be an actual road there. The street is packed with people for a block up and down. This was consistent with every block in the 3-mile route).

How do you draw interest to your work, to your company, to the services and products that you offer?

The Seahawks are an object of interest for many reasons. They are champions of the NFL, which is this nation’s national sport (drawing a record 110 million viewers). They have unique characters on the team that turn them from a “vanilla”to a “tootie fruity” brand of team. Their style of play appeals to most fans. And they have a coach that is emotionally charged and is romping up and down the sideline like he’s coaching a JV football team (which in and of itself is refreshing).

What do you do that makes you or your company an object of interest? Do you write books on your expertise? Are you a dynamic speaker? Are you cited in interviews and publications? Do you write fascinating blogs, articles, E-books, or columns? Do you offer contrarian viewpoints rather than be part of the noise? What do you do to offer instant value to people and organizations?

People flock to interesting people, teams, bands, and politicians. They also flock to those that aren’t “vanilla;” that are provoking and humorous; and that challenge and influence. If that doesn’t sound lie you yet, what are you waiting for?

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Going 1-0 Every Day

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll

One of the mantras that Seattle Seahawks head coach Peter Carroll enjoins to his team is that they must have the mindset every week of going 1-0. In the National Football League, you can get beat “on any given Sunday” because the competition is so good. Even the bad teams have enough talent to upset a favorite if they don’t play with a razor sharp focus. Coach Carroll has so drilled this into his players, that I’ve heard many of them express this concept when being interviewed throughout the season. That’s become their culture.

I had a recent conversation with a consultant that I coach. We discussed at length this same concept because she was finding that outside forces were distracting her. These forces (some of which she had no control over) would frustrate her and cause anxiety. The results are the same as losing a football game in the NFL. Anxiety and frustration mask talent, and when that happens you begin to press, put too much pressure on yourself, and ultimately never reach your potential.

You need to create your own culture for yourself of 1-0. This means that each day deserves your complete focus and attention. Planning ans scheduling is fine; but undue focus isn’t. This is a challenge for me. I tend to get distracted from things both in the past and future; work related or not. I recently have found that even my volunteer work has caused distractions that I have to work hard to shake. This requires focus and discipline.

Go 1-0 every day. Set your daily goals and priorities and compete with yourself to achieve them. If things happen that are unplanned for, don’t freak out. Just do what Russell Wilson does and call an audible. Stuff happens, you know? But your end goal is to always end the day with a win and then start over the next day. My coaching client emailed me today saying this concept worked for her and she was adapting the 1-0 mindset. You can, to..

Regardless of your vocation – solo practitioner to CEO to stay at home parent. Each day affords you the chance to go 1-0. Take that challenge and win.

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

You’re in the “What If” Business…

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll

Last Sunday, my hometown Seahawks had an uncharacteristic breakdown on the final play of the first half, which nearly cost them a game.

They lined up with 2 seconds left to kick a chip shot field goal and increase their 7-3 lead over the Tennessee Titans. This is about as routine a play in the game as there is, as it’s akin to kicking an Extra Point. There was, however, one major problem. Earlier in the quarter, the Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka was injured making a tackle (or literally getting run over). He had to be taken into the locker room to be examined. NFL teams (unlike in college) don’t have the flexibility of carrying backup kickers on their limited roster. For the Hawks, the duty went to punter Jon Ryan.

The Seahawks did a decent job of getting the ball as close as possible for Ryan to attempt his first ever NFL field goal. As the snap came back, backup holder (and defensive back) Chris Maragos mishandled the low snap, tried to pick it up and run, and in a scene straight out of the Keystone Cops, fumbled the ball forward. The ball was scooped up by a Titans player who raced 90 yards to the end zone for an unbelievable touchdown to take the lead at halftime. The Century Link crowd, the Seahawks, and their coach Pete Carroll were stunned. Fortunately for the home team, they overcame that adversity and pulled out a win. After the game in his press conference, Carroll took the blame. He admitted in retrospect that the decision to put his players in a position to fail was “egregious.” They had not had enough practice time and it was set up for a disaster. In hindsight, he would have simply gone for the touchdown with 2 seconds left.

As a crisis management expert, I look at this play as a microcosm of business (much easier to accomplish because the Seahawks won the game). Carroll did the right thing with his mea culpa and taking responsibility. The interesting thing is a similar situation occurred in a playoff game last year against the Washington Redskins. Even though a kicker getting hurt is pretty unlikely, the need to be completely ready and prepared remains.

Here are some other salient points…

1. NFL teams are always prepared for an injury to their most important player, the quarterback. The likelihood and significance is greater than the kicker. The backup (redundancy) is always ready to go. Business is the same way. You are ready for that fire, windstorm, or earthquake. However, how ready are you for the minor “injury” that could cost you big time? Your injured kicker might be an intruder due to lack of security; a wet floor in the office cafeteria just waiting for someone to slip; or an inefficiency in the production line that sends out a defective product. Are you too focused on the big picture and overlooking the other perils?

2. To make a field goal or extra point in an NFL game, you must have three things work well – the snap, the hold, and the kick. Any one of those things that goes awry will create a problem. The Hawks had a backup plan. They had their punter Jon Ryan ready to kick. Unfortunately, Ryan is the regular holder. Maragos probably takes under 5 snaps a week in practice to prepare for this. The snap was low and mishandled. You undoubtedly have processes that require precision and consistency. What happens if your redundancy isn’t prepared to deal with less than perfect conditions? Are your backups ready to handle a low snap?

3. Can you bounce back? The Seahawks regrouped and were able to respond to adversity. Why? I can’t say with certainty as I wasn’t involved with the play other than screaming from my living room. What I can imagine is that Carroll, as any good CEO or President, took the blame, remained calm, trusted in his management (coaches) and employees (team) and stayed on the plan. What’s your plan in crisis? Do you have one? Is it written, communicated, and practiced? How can you move forward without one?

4. Timing is everything. This calamity happened with a whole second half to play. If it had been the final play of the game, all would have been lost. What if your crisis falls in it’s worst time. For the Seahawks, they lose a game (which in their business is crucial). For you, you might lose your business.

You’re in the “what if” business as an executive. This is a strategy decision. Like Carroll, it’s your responsibility to make sure all the “what ifs” have answers that are clearly communicated and implemented. In the end, you’re the one that faces your board of directors, employees, customers, media, community, and your family.

What are you doing to assure that your team is ready to compete for a championship? This year wasn’t without its adversity and I guarantee next year will give you ample opportunity to overcome adversity. They always do. The better prepared and ready you are to meet hose challenges, the more likely you will be playing for a championship at the end of your “season!”

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – What if?

What if…  

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll

Sports fans are crazy. I was in a debate with a friend on my beloved Seahawks after they won a huge game in Chicago. He was still fretting over close losses and what might have been if things were different.I know that’s what we as fans do, but if coaches and players do the same, they are in big trouble.

Maybe it’s the old coach in me, but looking back on failures and wondering “what if” only leads to misery. Learn from mistakes, vent it out of your system, and then move on to the next game. If you don’t do that, that “failure” is magnified and creeps into the future leaving a wake of failures in its path.

The conundrum is that this is a problem in business, too. We all fail, make mistakes, and let the “big one” get away at times. The unsuccessful people look back and moan about “what if,” and how things would have been better if they had not failed. That leads to more failures. The successful people learn from their mistakes, understand that opportunities come out of failure and crisis, and boldly move to their next “game.”

Don’t be afraid to fail. When you do, learn from them. Make adjustments is necessary, then forget them and boldly move forward with your eye on the future. That’s the clearest and best path to your “championship.”

Copyright 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

This week’s quote –  “If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead.”
~Erma Bombeck

P.S. How many times can you be declared legally dead. By this definition, I might have a few… 

Are You “In” Only When It’s Easy?

I’ve heard a lot of commotion and concern lately as my local NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks, have floundered a bit of late. Early in the season when they were 4-2, everyone was buying in to the Pete Carroll mantra of “I’m in!” Basically, what it means is that when you express this pithy (yet powerful) commitment, it means you are all in with the team. No excuses, no complaining, no finger-pointing. It means you’ve made an all-out, all-inclusive commitment to the team.

That’s easy when things are going well. How about when they aren’t?

The concept of “I’m in” is best exemplified in tough times. Everyone is on board when you are winning and everything is rosy. The true test of character is if you are consistent when the going gets tough and the tough need to get going. I will leave it to Pete Carroll to influence his team. I’m here to hep you!

It begins at the top. Are you showing this type of faith to your organization? Are you exuding confidence and role modeling behavior for your employees, your clients, your supply chain, your investors, and your prospects? If not, the change begins with you. Now, you may or may not be the CEO, but attitude has a trickle-down effect. You can’t control what happens above you, but you can control yourself.

This concept of “I’m in” applies to all walks of life. Each member of the high school basketball team I help coach exclaims “Viking in” at taps the sign above the gym door when entering the court. What about at home? Is your home team committed to this concept?

Life and business aren’t always rosy. If you’re committed to your organization, your employer, your family, and/or your friends, then commit all out. Be “in” when times are good, and be “in” when times are tough. You’ll find that this builds strong relationships, strong character, and a strong spirit.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved