The saying goes, "It's better to be lucky than good."
Few successful people would argue with that axiom, but the problem is that by definition luck can't be conjured on demand. Fortune is fickle. Luck becomes even tricker to capture in direct proportion to the growing level of complexity necessary to achieve goal or the goal's contextual environment.
Consider the NFL. While lucky bounces, lucky calls from the referees, lucky gadget plays and lucky breaks are part of the game, they can't be relied on to win. The truth is that anyone who solely relies on luck to succeed in life won't be too successful.
After watching the Super Bowl this past weekend, there were three factors I noticed that played a much larger role than luck in winning at the game of football, but are applicable to virtually any aspect of the game of life as well.
Every NFL player and coach dreams of playing in the Super Bowl, and they have for as long as they can remember. Even if you're not a fan of professional football, it was apparent that every individual, whether player, coach or staff, who participated in the Big Game this past Sunday had a burning, lifelong desire to be there.
To reach the pinnacle of any professional endeavor takes drive, commitment, dedication and sacrifice, which can all be summed up in the word desire.
Whether it's a musician performing at Carnegie Hall, a broker working on Wall Street, a scientist earning a Nobel Prize, there has to be an all-encompassing desire to reach that goal. And the desire to succeed needs to exceed that of competitors.
Every week, every NFL coaching staff develops a game plan that strives to maximize their team's strengths against any weaknesses they can identify in their respective opponents.
The coaches have to match up the talent on their roster the best they can against the other team's players, while factoring for player injuries and suspensions. Based on those personnel match-ups, coaches then have to come up with plays on offense and defensive schemes that their opponent has not seen before to try and gain an advantage, at least on paper.
The coaches then scenario plan, anticipating success and failures in each aspect of their game including special teams so they can prepare in advance to respond in real time to the fluid dynamics of game day.
And they have to convey that vision to the players and then physically practice the plan to ensure alignment.
Independent of the NFL, that description of building a strategic plan could easily apply to virtually any organization trying to succeed or win in the face of competition.
However, the ability to win a game, or win at anything in life, hinges upon execution. It's the players on the field that execute a game plan successfully, adapt the plan as needed or fail to deliver against the agreed upon strategy.
When it comes to football, every individual player needs to prepare themselves physically, mentally and emotionally for the rigors of game day. Not only do they need to practice the game plan with their teammates in preparation of a given opponent, the player needs to workout, protect themselves from injury, get enough rest and proper nutrition.
The same applies to virtually any group of employees at any organization who have to keep their skills and minds sharp to achieve collective success.
Of these three keys listed, execution is by far the most important factor for success. Supreme desire won't compensate for lousy strategy or execution. Superb strategy won't win the day if there's sub-par execution or desire. However, flawless execution can absolutely overcome poor strategy and compensate for a lackluster desire.
When it comes down to winning, it's best to have all three factors in play whether your team is on the field or in the boardroom. If that's not the case, winning might feel a lot like losing.