Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Life Lessons from Football and the Detroit Lions

How do we get BETTER?
How do we improve...in whatever we do?

Usually it's through practice and execution, followed by reflection, more practice, and (hopefully) better exectution.

Think about a football team.

They're 'conditioning' throughout the year, they start "practice" early in the summer. Here they learn plays, strategies, and team philosophies. They run their plays against their teammates and try to get better at doing so.

...but it isn't until an actual GAME that they find out if they're on the right track. It isn't until they face opposition--from actual opponents--that they know if they are a 'good team' or not. They must prove it--to their opponents, their fans, and themselves--on the field.

Sometimes this goes well, and they win the game. Other times, it goes poorly and they get defeated--but even in the midst of the defeat, there can be growth and lessons learned, so that the next game can be better.

It takes a willingness to put yourself out there, and to be humbled by your opponent. It takes a willingness to let your opponent show you your weakenesses and your need for improvement. Only then can you learn from the competition.

Sometimes things get so tough that it challenges Who You Are...at the very core! It becomes about much more than football--or any sort of competition.

How will you respond? Will you give up? Will you give in and lose hope...or will you dig even deeper down, into the CORE of your being and REFUSE to give up or give in?

Will you allow competition to make you stronger and more resolved, or to beat you down?

This can be tough!

When the Detroit Lions went 0-16 back in 2008, things looked VERY bleak. They fired their Head Coach, their General Manager, and FINALLY went in a new direction.

They started slow...that first year, only 3 wins. It had to be tough that year, when penalties would hit, or when an opponent would score, the thought of "Here we go again" had to come into the minds of players...as I KNOW it did fans!

Yet, they continued. They allowed themselves to show steely resolve...they took defeats as temporary setbacks, motivation to make them better.

And they got better each year!

In 2010, they went 6-10, hardly a stellar year. However, it was the way they won--winning their last 4 in a row--which led to speculation that they had finally turned the corner.

In 2011, they turned that around and went 10-6, winning several games after amazing comebacks.

They made the playoffs for the first time in years!

Now, they are on the right track...headed in a positive direction. Allowing their opposition to be a measuring stick, allowing setbacks of defeats--or even poorly executed plays--to be motivation for improvement next time.

They have now changed the mindset--from "not losing" to "winning".

In 2012...will they advance? Will they stay ahead of a resurgent Chicago Bears? Will they finally slay the big green dragon that is Green Bay? Will they make the playoffs again and win a game...or two...or more?

Who knows?

...but one thing we do know: This team has learned to learn from their past, put it behind themselves, and move forward together in a powerful, unified way!

Their resolve is tested every week...and because they embrace those tests, they improve steadily.

May we all learn that "Life Lesson" from football!

Go Lions!

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