Brace yourself. The Arizona Cardinals, known as one of the most woeful franchises in all of professional sports (not just football), has done the near impossible and is now headed to the SuperBowl.
They’ve been the underdog in every single one of their playoff games (including their home games) — they’ve been disrespected, dismissed and disregarded. In fact, they’ve even been called the worst NFL team to make the playoffs in history. (And if they win, I suspect they’ll be called the worst NFL team to win the SuperBowl.)
Yet they’re now headed to Tampa and the SuperBowl (where again they’re the underdogs). And, they’ve done with this a head coach who is only in his second year of coaching, a bunch of no-name players and a 37-year-old quarterback everyone thought was washed up years ago.
This is just such an incredible story to begin with, but why I’m talking about it is because there is so much you can learn and apply to your business. And if there’s anything you can take away from this story, it’s that anything is possible. No matter what your business looks like right now, no matter what the economy is doing, you CAN turn your business around. This is a story of hope — no matter what your circumstances currently are, you can change them.
So, what are the Cardinals’ secrets? Let me share two I’ve noticed —
1. They don’t give up. Actually there’s a story within a story here. Kurt Warner, the quarterback, was initially cut from Green Bay, no other team would take him and he had to take a job bagging groceries. But he didn’t give up, he kept plugging away, finally got signed on by the St. Louis Rams, took the Rams to the SuperBowl twice (winning once), before being cut by the team, had a forgettable stint with the New York Giants and again looked like his career was over until Arizona gave him a one last shot (the only team willing to give him one more chance).
And look whose laughing now?
No matter what everyone was telling him, Warner kept believing in himself. Just like the Cardinals. No matter what the rest of the NFL and sports media was telling the Cardinals, they kept believing in themselves. Actually, they did more than believe in themselves, they used all the negativity as ammunition to prove everyone wrong.
The entire team refused to stop fighting. They refused to listen to what was being said about them. In essence, they refused to lose.
So what is your attitude with your business? Do you find yourself saying things like “well, the media is saying we’re in a recession so I can’t expect to make any money or grow my business now?” Or “all these other businesses are shutting their doors, I guess I better follow their lead and just hunker down until the economy improves?”
Think about it. If the Cardinals had listened to what everyone was saying about them, and had believed it, then I wouldn’t be writing this article right now because some other team would be headed to Tampa. Instead, the Cardinals decided to go down swinging. Shock the world. Prove them all wrong.
And they did.
2. They play to win. Boy, watch the playoff games and you see those AZ coaches take some pretty gutsy chances. Some of those other playoff teams, well, those teams were playing not to lose. They took no chances and played conservatively.
Those teams are all staying home. (The Pittsburg Steelers, the other team going to Tampa, also plays to win.)
You got to play to win. You got to take chances. You can’t play conservatively.
So what does play not to lose mean in business? I invite you to do this exercise for yourself, but here are a few ideas to get you started —
* Are you cutting your marketing budget to bare bones (or nothing at all)?
* Are you no longer investing in yourself (you’ll wait until the economy turns around)?
* Have you decided to start doing things yourself because you don’t want to pay someone else to do them?
If you answered yes to any of those, I would say you’re playing not to lose.
Now, I’m not advocating putting yourself in the poorhouse or running up a bunch of debt, but you have to be smart at what you’re cutting. Just doing an across-the-board slash of your marketing is not the answer. Strategically reviewing your marketing and cutting what isn’t working IS a smart thing to do (and you should do this all the time, not just when business is slow).
Deciding to do your bookkeeping right now because you want to save a few bucks is not smart. Should you really be spending hours struggling with something you’re not good at versus taking that time and focusing on your strengths and bringing more business in the door?
Yes it can feel scary. I’m sure it was scary for those Cardinal coaches when they chose plays that while could win them the game, it also could just as easily have blown up in their faces. But, I can pretty much guarantee they wouldn’t have won those games if they hadn’t taken those chances.
Remember, no one wins playing scared. Even if you fall on your face and the play completely backfires on you, you can’t stop playing to win. Because in the long haul, you WILL win more then you lose.