What do you do when you're faced with so many setbacks it looks like you're sure to fail? Do you let it rattle you? Do you concede defeat, planning to do better another day? Or do you just keep right on doing the best you possibly can?
Following that last strategy just paid off big-time for New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady. His team just won the Super Bowl--in a first-ever Super Bowl overtime--with a spectacular comeback after being 25 points behind the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter. There are lessons in this game for us all.
1. When you're in the midst of an epic failure, the most important thing to do is stay calm.
Things looked very bleak for the Patriots throughout most of the game. By halftime, Atlanta had scored 21 points, and New England had zero. By the third quarter, the Patriots had managed to squeak out a 3-point field goal, but by then the Falcons had 28 points. It looked like a complete massacre.
Only Brady didn't let it get to him. "He was the same as he always is: cool, calm and collected," Danny Amendola, who caught the pass that tied the score told the press. Does being able to keep your cool in the most stressful situation imaginable make a difference? In this case, it made all the difference.
2. When the stakes are high, never give up.
The game was classic Brady. Two years ago, the Patriots won the Super Bowl 49 even though they went into the last few second of the game behind by four points--and with the Seattle Seahawks on their 1-yard line. But just like yesterday, the team stayed calm and didn't give in to despair. It only took one spectacular play to turn everything around and score a game-winning touchdown with seconds to go.
Yesterday, a different spectacular play--also in the final minute of the game--saw the Patriots complete a 91-yard drive, and then a normally risky two-point conversion--to tie the score in the final seconds and force the game into overtime. In overtime, the Patriots scored an early touchdown, ending the game according to league rules. Atlanta never got the ball in overtime.
3. Just because something's never been done doesn't mean you can't do it.
No team had ever come back after being more than 10 points behind in the Super Bowl--until the Patriots did it yesterday. Then again, most teams deeply in the hole in the Super Bowl tend to give up the fight. No quarterback has ever won more than four Super Bowls either, until Brady did it yesterday, surpassing his idol Joe Montana and Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw, each of whom only won four. If Brady had stopped to worry about achieving something no one else was ever able to, I might be writing a different piece right now.
Even if the odds are against you, even if you're setting out to do the impossible, don't assume you won't be the first to succeed where others have failed. You might fail, of course. But if you dig in and keep your cool, you might just succeed.