January 9, 2005

Choose Excellence

I admit it. I tend to only get excited about our Indianapolis Colts football team as the playoffs approach. Sure, I'm a casual observer of their progress throughout the regular season, but I only start watching the games when the stakes get higher.


And that time is now. After our thrashing of the Denver Broncos today, we head next to New England to face our equivalent of an arch nemesis, the New England Patriots. They kept us from advancing last year, and we lost to them again at the start of this season.


But we are not the same team that we were a year ago. An article a few weeks ago in the New York Times Magazine captured why. The article focused on the Manning family legacy. Peyton Manning, our quarterback, passed this season for the most touchdowns in the history of the game. Eli, his brother, joined the New York Giants this year as a quarterback facing huge expectations. And their father, Archie, had a storied NFL career.


In describing Eli's challenges this season, the article unlocked the key to Peyton as well: "The one emotional trait he (Eli) shares with his older brother (Peyton) is maybe the most important: success is his equilibrium state. He expects it."


What's making our Colts great this season (and different from last year) is the team collectively is at a point where success is the equilibrium state. Everyone goes on the field expecting success and to win.


Call it confidence, mojo, or whatever you want, but when success is your equilibrium state, you achieve success. The team I was part of in my first association job was just like this. We expected to do amazing things. We expected to knock the socks off of others with the cool ideas we implemented. Achieving anything short of the very high standard we were capable of achieving frustrated us. That frustration fueled our future efforts in a healthy way.

So this is obvious right? Success breeds success. Superstar athletes like Peyton Manning darned well better be frustrated when they don't perform. But we're not all superstar players and we're not all on superstar teams.


If that's what you are thinking, remember this:


"Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional."


Mark Sanborn, The Fred Factor


It's a new year. All you have to do is choose.

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