All good things come to an end and so it is with the 2010-2011 Seattle Seahawks season as they lost today 35-24 against da Bears. I grew up a huge fan of the Seahawks and have followed them for as long as I can remember and this season short of winning the Super Bowl was one of the more inspiring seasons I’ve ever seen. For those of you who don’t follow the Seahawks, they finished 4-12 and 5-11 in the two seasons prior to this one in which they were probably worse than their record indicated. This year, they had over 200 roster changes, won the worst division in the NFL with a 7-9 record and won at home in the playoffs against the defending Super Bowl champs in one of the biggest upsets in the NFL. It was quite the ride for a season low on expectations. After the loss, I had a few random thoughts about the season and some lessons learned.
1) When things aren’t going well, just a little spark and positive attitude can turn things around quickly. When the Seahawks lost at home against Tampa Bay and were 6-9, they looked awful and no one gave them a chance of making the playoffs. In two short weeks, their outlook changed and they defeated the Saints. Too often, things look bleak for our businesses when many times, we might be just a turn or play or decision away from turning things around with positive momentum.
2) With low expectations, you can become the talk of the town! This past week, I can’t remember one day where I didn’t enter into a random conversation with someone about the Seahawks. They were the talk of the town - they galvanized the community and fairweather fans became diehard fans. Trust me, 2-3 weeks ago, people weren’t talking Seahawks. Our businesses can do the same thing, by defying expectations, and going above and beyond we’ll create fans and customers that love us and will share with the rest of the world. We just have to deliver. As entrepreneurs, I feel we’re always the underdog, the odds are stacked against us, and like the Seahawks we have to work our way to defy expectations and to create the buzz around our companies.
3) Give credit to Pete Carroll. The guy really is the Tony Robbins of the NFL. I read his book - Win Forever - and, it was a little too sugary for me. However, the guy lives it out and is consistent day in and day out with regards to being positive, motivational, energetic, and competitive. The team believed in its leader and played hard for him, there was a pretty big difference in their swagger, belief, and it showed on the field. I’m not saying we need to be Pete Carroll in our businesses, but we can sure learn from being focused and having everyone on our team moving in the same direction.
4) Get rid of the wrong players. With over 200 roster changes, if you weren’t bought into the system, you were out. Period. The Seahawks paid a receiver over $6M to not play for the Seahawks. If you have team members that aren’t willing to buy into your vision and pull the same direction, it’s time to let them go. For a startup, you can ill afford to have team members that are just there for a paycheck. You want people who want to win, who are and act like owners, that don’t give up easily. They are positive and influence others positively.
5) You are going to lose occassionally, but don’t lose the war. It sucks that the Seahawks lost and I’m sure the players were extremely disappointed especially since the stars lined up and Green Bay would have played in Seattle next week and New England is now out of the playoffs. But, the beautiful thing like sports, entrepreneurship is a journey and a game. If you play the game right, there’s always next season and there’s always tomorrow.
It was a fun ride and I was definitely inspired by the last couple of weeks. If the Seahawks can beat the Saints with a roster of unknown names - we can do the same with our businesses!