There is one thing you absolutely cannot do in the next 70 days: quit. I'm begging you not to give up on your goals for 2014. No matter how hopeless it might feel or how far ahead your competition may be, you can overcome if you persist.
Recently I'd been feeling like I should quit something I set my sights on. My big goal for 2014 is to get my book Seeds of Success turned into a major motion picture. After a few false starts with producers I was feeling like it wouldn't happen and was ready to quit. Thank God I didn't. I'm headed to Hollywood to meet up with a producer who fell in love with the story and wants to write the script.
I'm now more confident than ever that it will happen and it’s in large part because of what I saw on TV Saturday. My other guilty pleasure (besides shopping in Sky Mall) is watching college football, and this week's games were massive proof that anything is possible.
Your fiscal year is exactly like a football game. Both have four quarters. This weekend there were eight huge come-from-behind victories. Games that were won by inferior teams, not by skill, but by will. They just didn't give up, they didn't stop believing even when there was lots of evidence to the contrary. Whether you're a sports fan or not, there is a huge lesson you can learn from these teams -- it pays to finish your fourth quarter strong.
This is where games are won or lost, it's also where you can make or break your year. There was a common theme to all these games. Each team got off to a slow start in the first half, started to pick up a little momentum in the third quarter and then the magic happened in the fourth. Maybe this sounds a lot like your fiscal year too?
Even when it seems like there is no hope, one conversation, one phone call, one client or one sale can turn things around in your favor. If the start of 2014 was slow, you can turn it around and finish strong in the fourth quarter too if you apply the strategies of these teams.
Minnesota trailed Purdue 31-20 at half, 38-29 after the third quarter and came back to win 39-38.
Florida Atlantic trailed Western Kentucky 31-14 at half, 38-28 after three and came back to win 45-38.
South Florida was trailing Tulsa 27-7 at halftime, 30-14 in the third and rallied to win 38-30.
Takeaway: You can overcome a slow start with a strong finish. Keep the faith, stay the course and commit yourself in full measure until there's no time left on the clock.
Florida State fell behind against Notre Dame five different times and managed to pull out a late game 31-27 win after what would have been ND's game winning touchdown was called back due to a penalty.
Takeaway: One mistake can make all the difference. Encourage your team to maintain their discipline, know their role and pay attention to details.
After being behind to BYU 28-13 at the half, Nevada scored four unanswered touchdowns to win 42-35.
Takeaway: Double your effort, whether it's prospecting, recruiting or any other business activity, and you can have a massive fourth quarter like Nevada.
Texas blew five leads yet managed to drive the length of the field and score the game winner in the final 3 seconds vs. Iowa State.
Takeaway: There is no such thing as "style points" in sports or in business. Whether you win pretty or win ugly, a win is still a win.
There were also a couple cautionary tales to learn from.
1. Oklahoma's kicker is one of the best in the country but he missed two easy field goals and an extra point in a one-point loss to Kansas State 31-30.
2. California held three leads on UCLA and was in position for a game-winning field goal, but threw an interception and lost 36-34.
3. Georgia Tech maintained a lead over North Carolina virtually the entire game but couldn't get one last stop. North Carolina scored the game winner with just 11 seconds left.
Lesson: Focus on your fundamentals. Little things win big games but they also lose them. On the field and in business situational awareness is critical because mistakes are costly. There's a time to take chances and a time not to. Instead of throwing caution to the wind, take calculated risks. As coaching great Vince Lombardi once said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all."
Are you maintaining your energy level to sustain you through the end of the final quarter? We are not spending time on diet and daily exercise -- we are investing time on it. When you invest there is a return, the fourth quarter is where your fitness is tested.