Thursday Thoughts on Leadership: The Mindset of a Champion

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Las Vegas to speak with HomeServices Lending CEO and president Maureen Sammon and her team at HomeServices Lending’s Elite Producer Event. Next, it was off to Tucson to speak with our Real Living Real Estate network members for the annual Real Living Connection conference.

At each event, I spoke about the importance of a positive mindset for effective leadership and the topic couldn’t be more top of mind than after this past Sunday’s historic Super Bowl LI game.

As all of you know, the Patriots won the Super Bowl in a stunning overtime victory, claiming the Vince Lombardi Trophy I wrote about last week. The game—which many claim was the greatest Super Bowl played—boiled down to tactical errors made by the Atlanta Falcons and decisive execution on the part of the New England Patriots and their on-the-field leader, Tom Brady, and off-the-field leader, Bill Belichick.

In total, the Patriots ran 93 plays during the course of the game while the Falcons ran almost half as much—46 plays. In the fourth quarter alone, when the Patriots truly turned the game around, New England ran 35 plays to Atlanta’s 13. Yet, it wasn’t just play-making that was the active ingredient in a New England championship; it was also a mindset maintained by the entire team that while they might be down on the scoreboard they were far from out.

Famously, Belichick worked his team harder than ever in the days and weeks leading up to the Super Bowl—he even tried to start a “no days off” chant at the Patriots parade in Boston to reflect his leadership philosophy—and the results certainly showed. “We put in a lot of work,” said Patriots receiver and special teams standout Matthew Slater. “We’re practicing in pads on Super Bowl week. We’re squatting 80% of our maxes on Super Bowl week. I mean, we worked for this. Our bodies were ready. Our minds were ready, and we just kept believing one another.”

To pull off a Super Bowl win, belief was truly the name of the game. Every single player on the New England Patriots had to believe they could come back. The team also had to believe in Tom Brady, who remained calm despite his team’s worst deficit of 28-3 in the third quarter. And Brady’s composure is the mark of not just a good leader but a great one. Any leader can lead through success. That’s easy. But it’s the hard that makes you great, as I say. The true test of a leader is when the chips are down, when this leader is facing the greatest deficit in a Super Bowl game ever and you say something like, “OK, we need two touchdowns, a field goal and two 2-point conversions to take the Super Bowl into overtime,” and without blinking an eye the leader would reply, “I got this.”

So what’s the message? Truer leadership has never been so clearly defined as the New England Patriots rallying together and winning this Super Bowl game. Yet it was no coincidence or no capricious stroke of luck that New England wound up the victors; it was a mix of experience, determination, perseverance and the belief that winning was possible. Brady was once quoted as saying, “If you don’t believe in yourself why is anyone else going to believe in you?” And that’s the truth. Leadership, success, victory … it must start always with you.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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