It is About This Season, Not Last
This past August, I had the opportunity to conduct three days of training in northern Ohio. I met many people who were fans of the Cleveland Browns, who were excited about the prospects of the upcoming NFL season. In all honesty, the Browns haven’t experienced much success recently. Last year they became just the second team in NFL history to lose each and every one of their 16 games. The year before, they managed to win just one. The team was making progress and putting those seasons behind them. They weren’t going to lament the past, they were focusing on becoming successful in the future. The Browns shocked their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening week, playing them to a tie. Entering the fourth week of the season, the Browns’ record was better than half the teams in the league.
About 450 miles to the east, the Philadelphia Eagles were coming off the polar opposite season of the Browns in 2017. The Eagles had the best record in the league last year in route to their first Super Bowl championship. Ownership installed a large sign in the Eagles’ clubhouse commemorating their championship. A few of the team leaders went to management asking to remove the sign. They were proud of their success, but weren’t satisfied. It wasn’t about resting on their laurels, it was about gearing up to do it again.
We find constant success, not on what we did yesterday, but what we will do tomorrow. History is full of people who overcame great obstacles to achieve great results. History is also full of people who had it all one day only to lose it all the next. Successful people use their past experiences to set them up for future success. A pessimist complains it was too windy and ruined the day at sea. An optimist thinks the wind will soon die down. A leader remembers the last time it was windy, knows how to properly adjust the sails, and continues on the course to reach his destination.
While we cannot rewrite the past, the book is not yet finished. The future is an empty page. Famed NFL coach Vince Lombardi said “the man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” No, he used the rocks behind him as stepping stones to reach a higher level. Pretty sound advice from the guy whose name is on the trophy awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl. Last year’s record doesn’t win this year’s trophy. It is what you learn and build on from the past, and how you implement new strategies, that leads to success.