As a Wisconsin resident I am a Green Bay Packers fan, it is almost a requirement of residence in this state. With that said, the example that follows is just that - an example. My comments should not be interpreted as my opinion, necessarily, or as a critique of the way the Packers do business. Using the Packers as an example is simply intended as a means to help illustrate the point that is being made about the questions that we ask ourselves in life, and how those questions ultimately impact our outcomes. GO PACK GO!
At the end of the season Packers President Mark Murphy, General Manager Ted Thompson, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy get together to discuss the recently concluded season, and also to begin to look ahead to their plans for next season. They may talk about the positives and negatives from the past season, identify specific focuses for the off-season, discuss any anticipated growth or regression that they foresee for their current players, etc.
These are good reflective conversations to conduct annually, and will also help as they turn the page towards the proactive planning that will need to take place in order to map out their plans for the off-season. But, what is their stated goal as they move forward? A standard annual goal that a high achieving franchise like the Packers might have would be to, “win the Super Bowl”. In establishing that as an annual goal they may believe that they are identifying a lofty goal that will propel them to the highest possible outcome for an NFL franchise. After all, they are setting the bar as high as they can in their profession.
But are they really?
Wasn’t their goal in the recently concluded season to “win the Super Bowl”? But that didn’t happen. And their superstar Quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, isn’t getting any younger (he is currently 33 years old, which is trending towards the older end of the spectrum for an NFL player).
Perhaps, if the Packers want to capitalize on the remaining peak of Rodgers’ career, and do whatever they can to cash in another Super Bowl Championship, they should consider asking themselves a different, better, question.
In asking a “better question”, the Packers may want to consider adjusting the question that they have been asking themselves (“how can we win the Super Bowl”) by tying a timeframe to it. Given their current situation, in that they have established the franchise as a perennial playoff contender, they have an elite (but aging) Quarterback, and the fanbase is thirsty for another NFL Championship, the Front Office may want to assess the situation and refine their goal by saying that the goal is to, “win the Super Bowl this season”. It is a subtle change, but by attaching a tangible timeframe to their goal, the “brass” is dramatically reframing how they think about, and approach, their preparations for the upcoming season. Their question now becomes, “how can we win the Super Bowl this season”).
In the last couple of decades with two future NFL Hall of Fame players, Brett Favre and now Aaron Rodgers, as their starting Quarterbacks, the Packers have been perennial playoff contenders. As such, one would imagine that it would be an annual goal for the organization to “win the Super Bowl”, yet they have only won one Super Bowl (2010) in the Aaron Rodgers era (nine years as the starting Quarterback), and one Super Bowl (1996) in the previous 15 years that Brett Favre served as the starting Quarterback. Certainly there are countless variables that go into winning a Super Bowl, but ultimately if you want a different result, in anything in life, eventually you will have to change what you are doing in order to achieve that different result. Albert Einstein is credited with stating that, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
With an annual goal to, “win the Super Bowl”, the Front Office could say that they are going to achieve that goal by:
*Developing an outstanding off-season workout and nutritional regime for their players
*Reviewing their offensive and defensive schemes and orchestrating an updated strategy
*Diligently scouting the draft class and selecting players that they deem as excellent fits
*Identifying key free agents who would be upgrades to their roster
*Looking for potential trade opportunities where they could deal from a position of strength to acquire a specific player that would enhance their roster
But again, I ask the question — isn’t that their same strategy each off-season? And yet, they still only have the one Super Bowl ring during the Aaron Rodgers era.
However, when the two words “this season” are added to the question that they are asking themselves (their goal), now all of the sudden the urgency gets ramped up significantly. If they are going to solely focus on winning the Super Bowl this season, then subsequently the considerations of where the franchise will be in the future becomes a much lesser concern. If the franchise is going to put all of their “eggs” in one basket, the win now basket, then they will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal - regardless of what the collateral effects may be on the long term prospectus.
Expert life and business strategist Tony Robbins talks about commitment by using the analogy of a military battle to take an island. “If you want to take the island burn your boats, and you will take the island. Because people, when they are going to either die or succeed, tend to succeed. But most of us give ourselves a way out and that’s why we don’t have what we want.”
Using this same line of thinking, if the Packers were 100% committed to winning the Super Bowl this season, they would do everything that they possibly could to achieve that goal, to accomplish it or die (metaphorically). In previous seasons they have not demonstrated that level of commitment to winning a Super Bowl, having consistently positioned themselves to be competitive but not quite going as far as doing whatever it takes to win in any specific year. The result — consistent contenders, but only two Super Bowl rings in the approximately quarter-century of consecutively having Hall of Fame quality Quarterbacks leading their team. Is that a good enough percentage? That is up to the Front Office and the fans to decide.
How might committing to winning the Super Bowl this season change the Packers off-season processes, and ultimately their strategies/action-steps as they move forward?
Packers General Manager Ted Thompson, President Mark Murphy, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy
For starters, all of those young talented players that the Front Office has drafted in recent years, thinking that they would become elite players in the next couple of years (those players that they would never trade if their goal was to “win the Super Bowl” - with an undefined date, just sometime in the future), those players would now be viewed as valuable tradeable assets that the Front Office could use as chips to help acquire a player that may help the team “win the Super Bowl this season”.
Young players who are viewed as having a “high ceiling” (meaning that if everything comes together for them they have the potential to grow into superstar caliber players) are considered valuable assets to an organization. Younger players generally have cost effective salaries, the physical benefits of youth on their side, and the intrigue of projected remaining development — those types of players would generally not be traded for aging veteran players who may have lost a step and who may be nearing the end of their career. After all, those young talents are projected to develop into Pro Bowl caliber players someday, where as the veteran player likely comes with a higher salary, diminishing skill set, and a likelihood that he will be retiring in the not too distant future.
But, for a team that is putting it all on the line to win “this season”, instead of “some season in the future”, then a trade of young players with high upsides for a veteran player may be just what is needed to help solidify the roster for “this season”.
When looking at the Draft, the team is noted for saying that they will draft the “best available player”. But again, as we continue to look at the urgency associated with winning this season, what if the best available player is a quarterback (which they already have in Rodgers), and the team really needs, say, a defensive back. In operating in the “win someday” mantra, the team would select the quarterback with plans to have him sit behind Rodgers for the next several seasons while they work with him to fine-tune his skills to fit their system.
(This strategy is, in fact, how the Packers ended up drafting Aaron Rodgers when he was projected to be selected much higher in the draft but ended up falling to the Packers. The Packers already had Brett Favre, so using a first round pick on another quarterback seemed somewhat odd. Certainly the move has paid off in the long haul, but the Packers did not win any more Super Bowls with Favre at the helm — and who knows if they may have won had they used that first round pick on a position of need at the time. Win someday vs. win now.)
In the “win this season” approach, the Front Office would bypass the “best available” player, if it was indeed a quarterback, and instead use their first round pick to draft the player that they felt would have the biggest impact on their roster (or best fill a need) for the upcoming, “this”, season. That line of thinking could even lead to making a move that is completely outside the box, such as taking a kicker, which is a position that generally does not get drafted until the very late rounds (or even, as a more likely scenario, is acquired via signing as an un-drafted free agent).
It is all about mindset. Are you trying to “win the Super Bowl” (someday), or are you trying to “win the Super Bowl this season” (now)? As we see all too often in life, waiting on “someday” to arrive is not always a luxury that is guaranteed to us. Teams that may be primed to peak together as a unit “someday” may never reach that peak, as an injury, death, or some other unforeseen incident can cause even the best laid plans to go awry.
That same line of thought, that same “seize the day” concept, can also be applied to other areas in our lives. If we are not getting the result that we are seeking, a good strategy may be to do some critical thinking and to try and find a way to ask ourselves a better question. If the desired outcome is something that we really are committed to achieving, as opposed to something that we want but aren’t prepared to die for (metaphorically), then even though the cost to achieve that outcome will be high, we will be willing to pay that price because the fruits of the end result will taste so sweet.
GO PACK GO!
Coach Shane is an International Coach Federation (ICF) trained life coach and graduate of the Certified Professional Life Coach (CPLC) program from the Christian Coach Institute (Charlotte, NC). He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree (BA) and Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA).
PHONE: (920) 428-1564
FACEBOOK: Shane Hansen, Christian Life Coach, LLC