We all had a shared, teachable moment last night, when more than 100 million of us tuned in to watch Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos beat Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

While the NFL is by far the most popular sports league in America, many of those who watched aren't necessarily huge football fans. Still, we all got to study the same case study on smart leadership and high performance. Here are 11 things we all learned about the most successful people on any playing field.

(For another great take on the game--and its aftermath--check out my colleague Justin Bariso's story,  Before You Judge Cam Newton for His Horrible Post-Super Bowl Press Conference, Remember This.)

1.  They don't have to get the personal glory.

Peyton Manning was a great quarterback. (I write that in the past tense, as he's almost certain to retire.) However, it was clear that his almost-40-year-old throwing arm wasn't going to be the deciding factor in Denver's favor.

In key situations therefore, Manning and his coaches played it safe on offense, and trusted their teammates on the NFL's top defense (like eventual MVP Von Miller) to carry the day. Just because you're the leader doesn't mean you have to be the top individual contributor.

2.  They preach optimism.

The night before the game, Manning reportedly gave a "stirring" speech to his teammates, "characterized as emotional, humorous and spiritual." 

Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. Whether you believe you and your team can do something or not, you're probably right. A true leader inspires others to believe.

3.  They keep a level head.

Passion is great; out-of-control passion can easily lead to failure. We saw this with one of Denver's players, Aqib Talib, who managed to get called for three big penalties in the first half, including two personal fouls.

Luckily for Talib, his hot headedness didn't cost his team the game. Staying in control makes it more likely you can control the outcome.

4. The keep moving forward.

Manning is one of the all-time great NFL quarterbacks, but this year he was benched during the regular season. Yet, he came back, won his starting job again, and led his team. What matters is that he--and his team--didn't give up. 

When you're going through hell, as the quote goes, keep going. So many people fail because they quit just before they were about to succeed.

5. They speak through their actions.

We've all been underestimated at some point in our lives. Nothing is more satisfying than eking out a win in that kind of situation. The Panthers were expected to clobber Manning's Broncos, but did it matter?

Of course not--it's on-field performance and the final score that matter--in games and often in life. People who say things can't be done are often interrupted by the ones who are actually doing them.

6.  They accept a win.

Sometimes you deserve to win, but fortune doesn't smile, and you come up short. Other times, you're on the other side of that field--you don't really deserve to be the victor, but you fumble across the finish line and are handed the trophy anyway.

Exceptional performers understand that both situations exist, and they're gracious therefore when they come out on top. Real winners can accept praise, and act like they've been there before.

7.  They outlast the other guy.

Related to number-6, sometimes barely good enough is nevertheless good enough. You always want to do your best--but the truth is that sometimes you can win simply by outlasting the other guy's efforts by just a little bit.

That was the case in the Super Bowl--and it's often the case in life. He who dares wins--but only if he continues to fight all the way across the finish line.

8. They take smart risks.

Sometimes you have to take a risk simply to show that you're willing to do so. For example, the Broncos went for it on fourth down early in the first quarter last night--setting the tone for the game.

They weren't going to play risky, but they also weren't afraid to take calculated chances. Smartly taken risks are more secure choices than making no moves at all.

9.  They value their teammates.

Manning had the perfect opportunity to maximize the impact of his retirement announcement at the end of the game, when he was being interviewed immediately before accepting the Lombardi trophy on behalf of his team.

However, doing so would have stolen the spotlight however from his teammates, so he gave one of those patented athlete non-answers. Put your colleagues' interests ahead of your own; true leaders inspire more leaders, not more followers.

10. They diversify their interests.

Few people who earn significant wealth do so by pursing only one opportunity. You might have seen Peyton as pitchman for Papa Johns pizza (he owns a bunch of franchises), or Nationwide insurance, or a variety of others.

The point is that people who diversify are more often successful. You have a better chance of winning if you play multiple games at once.

11. They regroup after a loss for the next challenge.

I like Cam Newton--he's a great player. But after the game, he clearly let his anger and disappointment get the better of himself, for example when he walked out of the post-game press conference. Newton is only 26 though; he'll be back.

(Edited: I missed something when I wrote this article, which is that in 2010, when Peyton Manning lost the Super Bowl to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, Manning skulked off the field and didn't congratulate the victors. At least Newton took the podium for a while and faced the press onslaught. 

In truth, I don't remember anyone even bringing this up at the time--I'm pretty sure it's the first I'd heard of it. Is there a racial double standard? Maybe. Regardless, thanks to Inc.com reader Tamara Baynahm for bringing this to my attention.)

Truly exceptional performers understand that today's setback can be the start of the story of tomorrow's victory.