With the NFL playoffs in full swing, it may be difficult for many warm-blooded Americans to concentrate on anything other than football, much less P.O.s and P&Ls. This past weekend's lineup of games, arguably one of the best ever, has made it even more difficult to concentrate on work. While I can't find official data on the Bureau of Labor Statistics to back this claim (nor did I look very hard), I'm going to take an educated guess and say that this time of year is one of the lowest for business productivity. If you are wearing an NFL jersey as you read this, you undoubtedly agree.
There is, however, plenty we can do to keep our minds focused on work in light of the football playoff distraction. In fact, we can and should look no further than football to teach and reiterate valuable lessons that can be applied directly to business. Here are a few for you to consider as you catch up on box scores. (Note: major cliche alert)
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
Being good is not good enough. Even if you are the size of a Mac truck, you will get nowhere in football without dedication, passion, and persistence.
2. C is for Captain
Every team has at least one captain. This individual is the best at leading the team in concert to a common goal (winning). Also, the mere presence of a "C" on a jersey can give the extra spark to encourage performance. Recognize, promote, and empower your leaders.
3. Five Yards for Holding
If you don't play by the rules, you will get penalized. With that said, there is always opportunity for bending the rules in your favor. Just don't be surprised when someone pokes you in the eye in return.
4. Watch Your Blind Side
The quarterback is always looking downfield for opportunities. Weak links in the line lead to holes, which lead to sacks. Eliminate the weak links and create a solid team around your most valuable players.
5. Go Long
Very few games are won with only a ground game. Also, a short game is conservative and predictable and will be easily thwarted by the defense. The best teams take risks and throw bombs downfield once in a while, not only to score but to also keep the competition off balance. No risk, no reward.
6. Seek Good Hands
Your quarterback is only as good as his receivers. Without the proper set of individuals running downfield, it doesn't matter how many passes you throw.
7. Watch Game Film
The most successful teams and players operate like analytical geeks. They are constantly and religiously watching and reviewing game films. They review their own to find needed areas of improvement. They watch the competition in order to find and exploit weaknesses and opportunities. Data is good, no matter what industry you are in.
8. Protect Your Knees
When you are the best at what you do, someone will always be aiming to take you out. Take measures to assure that you protect your most valuable assets.
9. Get Pumped
There is a reason why you see football players with large, sound reducing headphones during pre-game. They are turning off the "noise" and distraction around them so they can focus on the task at hand. Whether its a fan or an email, distractions lead to errors.
10. Winning is Everything
In business, first place is not everything. But like football, there is no ring or trophy for second place. We should all strive to be the best...always. Period.
So now you have ample reason to openly discuss the NFL playoffs around the office, at the water cooler, and even during the budget meeting. Unfortunately, these business lessons don't give you license to stream highlights during business hours (although I suspect that most of you will).
What other football clichés relate to business? Let me now in the comments below.