Is Winning On Your Calendar?

Posted 01.11.2010

The next few weeks are some of my favorites of the year as the NFL playoffs are underway. Highlights from this past weekend include the Ravens ending the Patriots dynasty, the Jets beating the Bengals at home, the Cowboys on a roll and an absolutely crazy high scoring battle between the Cardinals and Packers that ended on a defensive touchdown in over time. As much as I enjoyed the games, what I really appreciate is how some of these coaches motivate their teams.

One vignette was Baltimore coach Jim Harbaugh grabbing a couple of cups of Gatorade from the sideline table as time expired in New England and running on the field to douse some of his winning players. That was a nice twist on the now clichéd routine of the winning coach getting a cooler full of the stuff dumped on his head. The most fun for me as a leadership geek, though, was learning more about how Jets coach Rex Ryan is motivating his team on their unlikely playoff run.

JimharbaughIn case you’re not familiar with the situation, Ryan is a rookie coach with a rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez. The Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl since the Joe Namath era and rarely make the playoffs. In one stretch earlier this year, they lost six out of seven games. So, if you’re Rex Ryan, how do you play it?  Do you define success as just making the playoffs? No way. As reported in the New York Times, on the Tuesday before the Jets first playoff game, Ryan gave his team their schedule for the rest of the playoffs. The last item on the calendar was a parade on February 9.

Is Ryan crazy? Like a fox, maybe. Here’s how he explained his approach in a press conference last week:

“I know what our goal is. Our goal is we’re trying to win the thing. That’s our goal. To get to this point and not have that as your ultimate goal, I don’t think you’re going to be successful. I think you have to visualize yourself succeeding and then go out and make it happen. I know that’s my goal.”

Ryan wants his team to visualize themselves blowing right through the Super Bowl and all the way through to the victory parade.

How about you and your team? What does the full and complete picture of success look like? What else can you do to paint that picture for them and make it real? Is winning on your calendar?