Super Bowl LI-One for the Ages-Magnificent Example of Essential Tools in Life

Super Bowl LI-One for the Ages-Magnificent Example of Essential Tools for Life

Valerie Hartman, Career Development/Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, Connector (

February 7, 2017

WOW!  What a game on Sunday night.  If you are a Falcon's fan, you are likely still in shock and incredibly disappointed that your team, on the brink of it's first Super Bowl championship, lost. If you are a Patriot's fan, you may also be in shock but likely floating on air and beyond thrilled that your team just won its fifth national title in just 7 years.

It was one for the ages.  The Falcons, a young scrappy team, a 3 point underdog against the mighty seasoned Patriots, came out on fire.  They executed their game plan flawlessly, both offense and defense meticulously dismantling the seemingly invincible Patriots.  During the first half, the Falcons so dominated the Patriots-basically shutting down both the offense and the defense of a proven winning machine-that they ran into the locker room at half time with a 25 point lead (almost unheard of in football-a lead so great that no team had ever overcome such a deficit in Super Bowl history).  Brady, his teammates, Belichick and the Pat's coaching staff looked dazed and completely out of sorts throughout the first half and ran into their locker room at half time with only 3 points on the board. 

What happened in that second half was nothing short of a master class in the application of life skills that transform lives and support transformation and success.  While I have no idea what those coaches actually said to their players (although as a former competitive/college varsity tennis player having experienced the wrath of a coach in my face when down a set in various major competitions, I am pretty sure I have some idea of the general tenor and language involved:-), I do know what I observed and it was a career development/life coach's idea of a master class in execution and failure of execution of essential life skills.

1.     Begin Again-The second half of the game was truly a whole new ball game.  Yes, the first half put 28 points on the board for Atlanta.  But the Patriots came out a "new" team.  They brushed off that first half and walked on the field with fresh eyes and a sense that whatever happened before was just that-before.  Instead of judging themselves and dwelling on the past, they embraced that second half as a whole new beginning.  As in life, if we are open and aware, every minute presents a new opportunity to "begin again".  With self-compassion and fresh "eyes", in each moment we can recommit ourselves to moving forward with the task at hand.

2.     Living Fully In the Moment-The Patriots walked out on that field totally present for this new half-not encumbered by the last 30 minutes.  No sense of doom/gloom-no ruminating on the mistakes of the first half or the dominate play of the Falcons-no obsession with what might happen in the future-no fixation on a possible defeat, each player committed to be the very best version of himself each minute of the second half.  As Brady commented after the game, they were told by Belichick to just focus on every single play because you never know which play will be the play that makes the difference in the game. As in life, we are invited to live fully/mindfully in the present moment.  Resisting the tendency to fixate on the past or obsess on the future, we are given the opportunity, the gift, to live fully immersed in the present.  And with that gift of living fully in the present moment, we can focus on the task at hand, giving the task at hand all of our attention and energy.

3.     Willingness and Ability to Adjust-Coach Belichick and his staff as well as the players realized that the Falcons had their number the first half (and kudos to the Falcons for figuring out how to shut down the Pats those first 30 minutes).  Did the Pats come out and continue to do the same thing in the second half?  NO WAY!  They adjusted, tinkered, changed their game plan-moving from a predominant running game to a series of short passes.  And it worked-it worked in a big way.  The Falcons defense was understandably exhausted from a stellar first half.  And their failure to adjust under mounting pressure allowed New England to put a winning 31 points on the board in the second half resulting in victory. In life, the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result.  We are invited to change, adjust, tinker, every moment.  And if open and aware, that change, adjustment, tinkering creates new energy and new outcomes in big, small and wonderful ways.

4.     Jettison that Inner Critic and Believe!-From the moment the Patriots, lead by notoriously stoic Belichick and understandably super confident Brady, stepped on the field in the second half of the game, you could feel the can do, we are not out of this, let's get this done energy.  While we human beings are wired for vigilance and negative self-doubt (thanks to the amygdala's flight or flight response), we have the capacity, with tools like meditation and MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) to rewire our brains toward more positive, self-affirming and sustaining thoughts.  And it is clear that the Patriots were having none of that negative self-doubt inner critic pity party.  As the energy and the momentum began to shift, quite literally, you could see the growing doubt (and exhaustion) on the faces of the Falcon players.  Whether it was the Patriots experience (4 prior Super Bowl wins and a ton of late game comebacks-been there/done that/confident we'll do it again) or a coaching staff and player roster equipped with tools to silence any inner critic and recognize and reward that inner stream of positive, self-affirming thoughts, it paid off big time.

5.     Shifting, Harnessing and Optimizing Energy-The Pats were way down and their "down" energy was palpable in the first half.  The Falcons blazing play literally shut down Brady and his teammates-and their energy was one of defeated, almost paralyzed. They looked dazed and disoriented.  But as they came out the second half with new, fresh eyes and perspective, they managed to shift their energy. Gone was the catabolic, negative, self-defeating energy of the first half. They were pumped and ready to go-part fired up, artfully using the energy of anger and renewed possibilities as grist for fresh, new possibilities.  As the second half went on, the Falcons looked like the Patriots in the first half-stuck, dazed and in disbelief.  Their energy palpably deflated.  In life, energy is our tool.  Understood--harnessed-- shifted and used wisely-- it can be the ultimate secret weapon in our arsenal of life skills.

Once again, sports providing a magnificent and vivid example of valuable lessons for all of us in our everyday life.  Grateful!