Archive for February, 2017

February 11, 2017

Playing to Win

No matter who you rooted for (unless you were rooting for Lady Gaga), what a thrilling Super Bowl it was last weekend, with New England coming from way behind to win in overtime. At one point, the young, upstart Atlanta team raced out to a 28-3 lead, but somehow did not score a single point after that.

There’s been plenty of analysis in the sports columns about how they lost, what the key plays were that turned the momentum, and which plays should or should not have been called. It’s easy to second-guess after the results are in. So I’ll add my own contribution to this debate, but from a completely different perspective.

As young as the Atlanta team is, I happen to think that there’s a possibility that two collective thoughts doomed the team in the third quarter when the score first reached 28-3: (1) “We’ve got this well in hand, everyone was saying we couldn’t do it,” and (2) “Don’t blow it now.”

Those thoughts together lead to a strategy of playing “not to lose”. If you have thoughts of playing not to lose, or playing not to make a mistake, then you generally stop doing whatever it was that got you to that point of success. And because you change your style of work, you often won’t get the same successful results.

I wonder if playing “not to lose” was indeed the beginning of the end of the game for the Falcons. What do you think?

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