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Stay in the Game! Lessons From HEARTBREAKING ECU Loss!

If you follow me online or even if you don’t, you may have heard about my alma mater’s, East Carolina University, heartbreaking loss to UCF literally in the last 5 seconds of our last home game of the season. Look at this mess…LOL
I can’t even watch the replay…Anyway, when things like this happen–no matter how seemingly small and petty in the scope of things–I look for teachable moments and what I can learn from the situation. Below are the things I’ve learned from ECU’s heartbreaking loss last night.Failures don’t always happen from one bad decision or at the last minute. A lot of these “so-called” ECU fans are acting like the game was lost in the last play. I say PISHAW!!!! There were so many errors in the game–especially in the first half–it almost became laughable! Our Quarterback was OFF–hesitating, throwing the ball to imaginary players LOL and the like. Defense didn’t show up until late in the 3rd quarter. So, the decisions in the last 1:47 were just heightened by an already tumultuous game.

I think if we were truly honest and reflective, when things haven’t gone the way we would like–it wasn’t just one decision that caused the issue. There were probably a series of minor missteps along the way that caused the major mishap to be severely magnetized. I say that to say this…

  • Look for the small clues along the way and adjust accordingly
  • Listen to your instinct, gut, conscience, Holy Spirit, etc.
These two things have rarely lead me astray. And even if I didn’t please someone else, I could sleep at night.As a leader, you have to accept the responsibility for the mistakes of the team, but not all of the blame. People are calling for Coach Ruff to be fired. I get they are hurt and disappointed–so am I. He is the type of man that will take ultimate and total responsibility for his headship as Head Coach. But I also hope that in his quiet moments of reflection, he will look also at those around him. Perhaps he should have required more of them earlier. Perhaps he should have lit a fire under his offensive line staff. Perhaps he should have spent some time personally coaching them on certain things. I dunno–hindsight is always 20/20.If you lead a team or frankly if you lead yourself–you are responsible for the success or failures of your team. But that does not mean you always have to take all the blame. Stop holding on to that person who sabotages, refuses instruction and correction or doesn’t have the skillsets you need. Ultimately, keeping them is a disservice to you and them.

Spend some time personally training and coaching. We can become disappointed when things are not done how we like. But have we really shown them the way we like or have we just assumed they will do it the way we like?

It’s ok to hold people accountable. You, your event, your brand and your business will suffer if you don’t. Teach them. Train them. Model for them. Then hold them accountable. Being a leader is a lot like parenting. It’s not easy. You won’t always be popular. But the end result (a productive, transformed person) is worth it.

Never get comfortable. ECU’s biggest mistake was looking at the fact we were ahead with 1:47 left on the clock. UCF was hungry–and ECU was complacent. And so it is for us sometimes. We are waiting for the opportunities to come to us, rather than showing our value by adding to the content of the conversation within our community. Somehow because we have gained some knowledge, experience and success, we think that’s it. You have to be a lifelong learner. You have to be willing to do the hard work, heavy lifting and challenging of yourself that comes along with doing any thing GREAT!

People thought Oprah was CRAZY for starting OWN. She could have easily stayed on air another 10-20 years. But she was comfortable and knew it. At an age where most feel she should be coasting toward her golden years–she moved out of her comfort zone. And because of that, not only is she making a new name for herself–she has created jobs, revived fledgling careers and given us access to some of the best self development advice and thought leaders of our time. Boy am I glad she didn’t listen to the “comfort keepers.”

The same is true for Mary J. Blige, who just released her album this week. She said in an USA Today article she was getting stale as an artist and that she needed to push herself. So she packed up and recorded her album in London. A lot of us are around the same people, the same environments and the same energy day in and day out. Blog outside of your house. Get out of your office and go to a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Attend events other than natural hair and beauty events. You never know the opportunities, ideas and creativity just NOT being comfortable will present to you.

Keep exhausting options. And when you’ve exhausted all your options, try one more. When you think all is lost or, conversely, you have it all together–don’t stop. Keep looking for a better way, while you’re still moving the ball down the field. Even when you’re down to your last seconds or dollars–keep trying. I immediately thought of this illustration.

A lot of us say to ourselves, “I’ve posted every day THIS WEEK about my event or business. And I have only sold X tickets.” Do NOT give up–that next post could be the one that breaks open the floodgates and sells out your event or product or book. Everything worth having is worth working for.Conversely, do not ASSUME that just because you’ve excelled or done well to this point, that you can sit back and rest on your laurels. Push yourself. Strive for the best. Notice, I did not say more–I said the best. Because when you strive for better, more usually comes with it. If you don’t, you may look up one day and your competition may have left you behind. Does this illustration ring a bell?
It’s not over–you can still recover from mistakes and gain something. While we will not play in the Championship game, nor have an opportunity to play in a BCS Bowl–we are still bowl eligible. We have yet another opportunity to show our skills and talents and to hopefully lessen the sting of last night’s tough loss. The same is true for us. Despite our mistakes, we still receive opportunities to walk in our purpose and use our gifts and talents. All is not lost. Do not dwell too long on things that did not go as you planned. Look critically, yet thoughtfully, at the situation and what you could have done differently. Forgive–yourself and others. Learn the lessons necessary. Then MOVE ON. Do not hold yourself a prisoner to past mistakes–especially if you’ve learned and grown from them. And do not allow others to do it to you either!I apologize for all the football analogies–especially to those of you who don’t watch the sport LOL.Cheers to the weekend and moving forward!

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