What do you suppose the Patriots and the Rams are doing after the Super Bowl? What about the teams that were eliminated in the playoffs? What about the teams that didn’t even make it into the playoffs? The likelihood is that they are all doing the same thing.
The Super Bowl was just played and the teams are looking to next season. The NFL Combine starts on February 26th and runs through March 4th. That’s going to be teams’ first look at players for potential draft. Roughly six weeks later is the NFL draft itself, which begins April 25th. After that, the coaching staff and management team have about 90 days until rookies report to training camp. Strategy, playbooks, and you-name-it for the 2019 season need to be developed and solidified in that window.
The truth is that it never ends. It is an everyday all-the-time thing. Perhaps coaching great Vince Lombardi said it best:
“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. . . . Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization – an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win – to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don’t think it is. . . . And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat. . . . I don’t say these things because I believe in the ‘brute’ nature of men or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour — his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear — is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”
Coach Lombardi said that running a football team is like running a business. Let’s reverse that. Running a business is like running a football team . . . and you are the head coach. Are you going to say that you have a great quarterback, receivers, and running backs but it is acceptable to have a mediocre offensive line? That offensive line will give the quarterback 5 seconds to find an open receiver . . . or 10 seconds — take your pick. That offensive line will either open a lane for a running back . . . or not — take your pick. Lineman rarely get credit for much but the team that controls the line controls the game.
Now, let’s turn back to your company. If you are like most owners, your focus has been on operations and maybe R&D. But, your financial systems are “okay.” Your human resources and talent management are “okay.” Your this and your that are “okay.” What will your season look like? And, while the Super Bowl is the gauge for one season, the Hall of Fame is the gauge for a career. Think about it and be honest with yourself.
In our last article, we talked along this same concept: why New Year’s resolutions fail. If it is simply a fix — a patch job — you lose. If it becomes your everyday all-the-time thing, you win. Whatever it is you do with your company needs to be an everyday all-the-time thing. Coach Lombardi is telling us the same thing. Otherwise, you will slip back into your comfortable rut. You will slip back into mediocrity. Your financial results will look like the average company of your size in your industry that will sell for an unremarkable — or perhaps disappointing — price. So, where do you think you stand? Given the way that you coach your company, are you having an okay season, are you having an okay career, or are you headed for the Hall of Fame?