By Nicola Albini, J.D., M.A. -This article originally appeared on February 23rd 2017 on huffingtonpost.com
“My job is to play quarterback, and I’m going to do that the best way I know how, because I owe that to my teammates regardless of who is out there on the field with me.” - Tom Brady
I am not a New England Patriots fan. Nor am I fondly interested in American football.
After all, being born and raised in Italy, I know that the “real” football is soccer – but we’ll leave that talking point aside for the sake of this article.
But despite the fact that American football has never captured my heart the way it has so many Americans’, Tom Brady’s winning performance in the 2017 Super Bowl was a potent reminder for me why I love sports so much.
I love, love, love sports. Even for a soccer fan like me, it was a blast to watch this year’s Super Bowl – especially the second half, when the Patriots came out of nowhere and took the game into the first-ever overtime in Super Bowl history and went on to smoke the Atlanta Falcons in a game that many thought they had clenched.
(Note: the next few sentences may hurt my Falcons fans, so I am sorry in advance if this is painful for you, my friends).
One of the best teachers of our time, David Deida, likens the activity of watching epic sports games to ancient “masculine” traditions like going to war, hunting for food, fighting for women, etc. So if this modern tradition of the Super Bowl satisfies ancient human urges, what is there to learn from Brady’s epic comeback?
The Epic Comeback
At halftime, the Patriots were down and no one expected them to win...
No one (with the possible exception of die-hard Patriots fans and presumably Brady and the team itself).
I can only imagine what it must have been like in the Patriots locker room during half time. I can only imagine the conversation going on among coaches and players, the adrenaline rushing, Lady Gaga’s music pounding through the walls.
I can imagine how difficult those moments must have been.
But somehow, whatever happened during those halftime conversations sparked life back into the game. And that’s when the magic really started to work.
By the end of the third quarter, the Patriots were still down by 25 points. And yet, against the odds, Brady sent the game into overtime by leading his team on two eight-point drives (including one that covered 91 yards) during the fourth quarter. And finally, he led the team into a winning 75-yard drive in overtime.
It was incredible to watch.
This man set all kinds of records and became the first quarterback to earn a fifth Super Bowl ring. He claimed his fourth Super Bowl MVP title in a forever 34-28 victory.
Even for me, an uninterested soccer fan, it was an inspiration. The Patriots somehow tapped into their purpose and expressed it in the real world during the fourth quarter and overtime. They lived their purpose.
Live Your Purpose
Many people struggle with this. Once you’ve found your purpose, how do you give it life? The answer is by creating and maintaining a vision for it.
Tom Brady and his team were living on purpose, they were expressing their vision through their stance on the field.
Bob Proctor, a great teacher, says that, “Vision is what you do with your life. Vision is the strategy behind the fulfillment of your purpose. You accomplish this strategy by creating several short-term goals to keep you on course.”
This is true in life as well as on the field – you saw it in action during the Super Bowl. The Patriots had a vision; they were intentional, they were on purpose.
How purposeful is your life? How much vision do you carry within yourself? Are you clear with your vision?
These are questions I ask myself regularly, and you must ask yourself, too. Fortunately, Tom Brady and his team have set an incredible example as a reference. What I learned from their relentless and epic win are these five lessons that are worthy of reflection:
The Power of Envisioning
The team had a vision of winning and nothing was going to take that away, even a halftime deficit that would have frozen the most optimistic of their fans. True, it takes a minute to shift and change momentum, especially when you have a plan and a vision. This happens in life as well as in sports; momentum is everything if you know where you are going... and Tom Brady knew that. His teammates knew that.
The Power of Persistence
Nothing could distract this team from their process. They played every moment as if it were their last – and it very well could have been! I bet they focused on one play at a time, without considering the dramatic points gap. One play at a time and persistence, consistency and discipline got them to the goal.
The Power of Letting Go
Tom Brady and his teammates were able to be utterly present in the second half of the game despite the numbers on the scoreboard. The only way they could have pulled off their big win was to quickly let go of “the judgment of a poor performance.” They let go of missed opportunities, and ultimately they let go of a hope for a better first half. Letting go and shifting their mindset is the only way they could win.
The Power of Mental Toughness
Allowing the winning mindset to take over can come only from mental toughness. It’s a practice that is achieved by constant application of mental tools such as positive reframing: turning challenges into opportunities. Brady certainly saw the challenges... but he also saw the opportunities to make history, and rose to the occasion with a mind that way full of possibilities.
The Power of Trust and Faith
This is a big lesson for me, as it is for all of us. You must have faith in yourself just like the Patriots did; that is the only way to execute. Without execution you can’t get anywhere. Ultimately, when you believe in yourself and trust in your abilities, you allow magic to flow. Did you see any of the last plays of the fourth quarter? That’s what I call magic.
You must have so much faith in yourself as a player and a human being that it goes beyond logic and almost transcends into a spiritual experience. Allow your true nature of greatness to take over and carry you to the finish line, one yard at a time.