There’s nothing like getting up for a big game. This is true as a fan, but even better as a player or coach. Game Day is a source of inspirational and motivational energy you can tap into for super powers and unbridled passion. Things happen on Game Day that you never thought were possible in practice. Players who prepare carefully and focus their energy on an upcoming game tend to have a sharper physical, mental and emotional state than they do on a practice or rest day.
This is all true for regular working folks too. People who put a red circle on the calendar around events like a proposal meeting, or a sales call, or a product launch, and prepare for those events as a Big Game, show up far more ready to do their best than those who see every day as the same old grind.
The key here is to make sure everyone around you knows about your upcoming Big Game and are involved in getting you prepared, building enthusiasm, and holding you accountable for your results. Wouldn’t it be great if people working around you cheered and gave you high fives when you walked into the office on Game Day? And what if people stuck microphones in your face afterwards for a quick download on how the game went? Now that’s effective performance management!
There is more risk involved in this transparency (that’s the whole point). If nobody else knows about your Big Game, how will they cheer you on? More importantly, if nobody else knows about your game, you can simply write it off as “no big deal” if you don’t win. If there’s no risk, you won’t have the same intensity and focus.
Winning: Very few teams win every game. Even Michael Phelps doesn’t win every race. But every team or individual athlete competing in an elite category is expecting to win every time. The desire to win and keeping track of your record are essential elements of high performance. If you don’t keep score and you don’t know your W-L record, you won’t achieve the intensity and focus of Game Day.
Losing: I saw a great interview with USC Quarterback Matt Barkley after they lost their second game in a row in the last second of the game. This kind of loss can devastate a team and ruin their season. Or, it can be seen as a step in the process of getting better. His response was to compare the losses to a dropped pass or getting tackled. It’s part of the game, and you have to overcome adversity and use each experience to grow stronger and get better.
Pacing: I had a game day experience putting on a big event at Hulu this week, and it was emotionally and physically draining for our team. I remember driving to work that day with U2, Led Zeppelin, and The Who blasting the whole way in. You can’t get pumped like this every day, it’s got to come in cycles and leave room for recovery. The Olympics come every four years… the NBA and NHL play over 80 games in their seasons. You have to design a game strategy that fits your business and keeps you at your best. But beware, there is no off-season!