Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations - Eric Ligman

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A fantastic lesson from Super Bowl XLIX

If you watched the big game yesterday, you saw an incredible back and forth battle between two teams that went all the way down to the wire before the outcome was determined. What you also saw in the waning moments of the game was a fantastic lesson that can be applied to so many situations in life. Here’s the deal…

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With just 1:09 left in the Super Bowl, the Patriots’ Malcolm Butler got beat on a spectacular display of situational awareness and concentration by the Seahawk’s Jermaine Kearse, who hauled in an incredible catch down to the Patriots’ 5 yard line. At this point, anyone in Butler’s position could easily be asking themselves, “How did that happen?” “Why me”?” “Are you kidding me?” “What terrible bad luck,” etc. and become totally absorbed in that fleeting moment that was sure to cost them the game and another Super Bowl title. After all, on the other side of the line was Beast Mode, an all but sure thing to pound it into the endzone and seal another breathtaking Seahawk comeback. But how does Butler (a rookie, mind you, with only 3 passes defended in his entire professional football career during the 2014 season) respond?

After watching Lynch slam the ball down to the 1-yard line on the first play from scrimmage following the Kearse grab, as the entire world is waiting to see Lynch take it in for the win, Butler teaches everyone a lesson. Sure, he could easily be dwelling on what just transpired, coming to the realization he would forever be remembered as the defender on the “amazing catch” that sealed the Patriots’ Super Bowl fate. But does he get caught up inside his own head thinking about the unchangeable? The situation that was out of his control? No, and if you watch the replay, you can see it the whole time. Butler seizes the moment, knowing he can’t change the past, he can only change how he responds to it, how he faces the next play, the next opportunity, the next few moments. 

And as the world watched, completely stunned to see Beast Mode NOT get the ball, but instead watching Russell Wilson drop back to pass (and not just any pass, but a pass right back at that Rookie who just got beat on the big play), Butler sees Wilson stare directly at a single target the entire play, the target passing directly in front of him. Butler then seizes that moment to out break, out run and out fight the Seahawk’s Ricardo Lockette to the ball, and in that one instant, changes Super Bowl history and his place in it to now being the rookie that clinched the Super Bowl victory for his team as he held onto that ball just outside the endzone as fans everywhere looked on screaming for joy or screaming in agony, but screaming either way.

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How many times in life have you had a bad moment, and bad meeting, a bad day, or any other form of bad luck that has come your way? How many times have you seen someone (whether you or someone else) who has experienced that bad luck get so caught up in it, dwelling on it, pointing fingers, wallowing in it, that it consumes them, paralyzes them, ultimately leading to more unfortunate outcomes? It is those moments, where your composition as a person are tested, that you have the opportunity to look at the situation, realize that was has happened has already happened, and there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot change the past. You cannot go back and undo it. All you can do it collect yourself and determine how you will handle the next moment, the next opportunity, the next challenge. You and you alone have the opportunity to choose how you respond to that moment. And for Malcolm Butler, he chose to never give up, to keep on fighting, and ultimately, to re-write his role in Super Bowl history.

For that, I offer up big respect to Malcolm Butler. As heartbreaking as it was to watch that unfold as a Seahawks fan, I tip my hat to Butler and say, “Well played, sir. Very well played indeed.”

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Eric LigmanFollow me on TWITTER, LinkedIn, and Facebook
Senior Sales Excellence Manager
Microsoft Corporation
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