What Tom Brady's Super Bowl Turnaround Can Teach Us about Losing

Computers gave the Patriots just a 0.2 percent chance of winning in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, but they pulled off the comeback by staying engaged mentally.
What Tom Brady's Super Bowl Turnaround Can Teach Us about Losing
Image credit: Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images

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The ending of Super Bowl LI was one of those moments that felt so important, you couldn't risk a run to the bathroom during commercials -- could barely even turn your head away from the television for long enough to grab a handful of chips! Though the game went into overtime, it felt as though it only took a flash for the Patriots to rally from a 28-3 deficit and create the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Even those who are, shall we say, not fans of Tom Brady couldn’t help but give him props for leading the way and winning Super Bowl MVP. The mental acuity necessary to keep his head in the game when he was that far behind is nothing short of amazing.

There’s something we can learn from it, something more than just “never give up” or “it’s not over until it’s over.” There’s a lot more to it than that.

Related: The Kickoff: Three Startups Born from the NFL

We witnessed a conscious effort to overcome in this year’s Super Bowl mega-event. And, let’s face it, as marketers, business professionals and entrepreneurs, we know the feeling. We’ve all had to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again. 

But how? Defeat seemed certain. Embarrassment right around the corner. What can we learn from this?

Losing is not an option.

Many successful business people say that you simply must go into every engagement visualizing success, and I really believe that to be true. When I’m faced with a marketing challenge at work, I literally try to visualize what the outcome should be and then I map to it. For some reason, visualizing it first makes the mapping so much easier.

Related: How to Transform Your Life in 6 Minutes a Day

But, when things don’t quite turn out the way you visualized originally, you can’t cave. Instead, you have to re-visualize and tell yourself that “losing is not an option.” Don’t visualize the loss; visualize the turnaround. Then, you can map it out. It’s like starting out all over again in a way, but from a different vantage point. Most people don’t make that adjustment, so the loss keeps on coming because they haven’t changed their path. You don’t have to accept defeat!

Focus the mind.

When things start to go awry, our minds race if we start to panic. What was once simple and clear becomes complicated and crowded. We can’t think straight. The best thing to do in that very moment is to slow down your brain. Keep focused on what it’s going to take to be successful and drown out everything else.

This is also when many folks start to give you lots and lots of advice. Lots of contradictory and confusing advice. Block it out and focus on what you know you need to do. You know what you need to do . . . so just focus on that and leave everything else out.

Read More: How to Stay Focused: Train Your Brain

Don’t think about the consequences.

Most importantly, don’t start thinking about what will happen when you lose. Don’t even think about the consequences or what people will say. Don't worry about what you are going to do as a result of the loss. Remember that you haven’t lost yet. And, if you handle the situation the right way, then you won’t lose. Don’t entertain losing until it actually happens.

Truthfully, we can’t win them all, and we often learn as much from our losses as anything else. Sometimes more. And, one of the most important things we should all learn is how to prevent the loss to begin with. That’ll increase our odds time and time again.

Because, as Tom Brady and the Patriots proved in the Super Bowl, there's almost always enough time on the clock to turn things around.

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