Seven life lessons I learned while watching Super Bowl LII.
According to preliminary Nielsen ratings, Sunday’s exciting Super Bowl match between reigning champs Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and the City of Brotherly Love’s Philadelphia Eagles led by Nick Foles attracted more than 110 million viewers. Although viewership was down from last year, it was still a strong national showing. Indeed, Super Bowl Sunday is a national holiday—for football fans and non-football fans alike. Beyond the amazing game on the field, it is the entire experience that makes the game: the teams, the commentators, the performances and, of course, the legendary commercials.
The Super Bowl is a massively influential platform designed not only to entertain but also to create a national conversation. This is “the” marquee media event that continues to bring advertisers out to play, as global brand marketers continue to invest millions of dollars for a 30-second Super Bowl ad in order to say something memorable to America—or at least make us laugh. While the post-game commentary is always as interesting as the game itself, there are always some key gems to take away from the game that are as valuable as the precious stones in the legendary Super Bowl ring. Here are a few lessons that I learned while watching the game that I know will help me play better in my life.
What an incredible game. It goes to show that you cannot make an assumption about an outcome until it is over. Sports, circumstances and life can change on a dime. So, what did I learn on Sunday that I can use every day?
- Be present for every play
This is exactly what it means. You have to be fully present to meet the moment and deal with the circumstances or greet the opportunities, whatever they may be. Can you imagine if Brandon Graham had been distracted for even a second and missed his window to sack Tom Brady? Presence is the solution that gives in every instance.
- All in, until the very end
When it comes to commitment, you have to be relentless and you have to be generous with every ounce of what you are made of until the end. Even if it is looking grim, you still fight for your chance. Imagine how Zach Ertz would have felt if he had phoned it in and not secured that last touchdown in the fourth quarter. When you are in it, be all in.
Two of the most widely discussed aspects of the Super Bowl experience are the kick-off and half-time show. Regardless of your musical preferences, you can always count on extravagant performances. This year was no exception, and it was so interesting to see the show extend out of the stadium and beyond the airwaves to various social platforms with exclusive content and conversations. The pressure that each performer faces must be tremendous, and both P!nk and Justin Timberlake showed up in full force to remind me what it means to be a pro.
- The show must go on
This is an old saying from the 19th century that now is embedded in customer service experiences and entertainment across every industry. No matter what has happened or how you feel, the expectation is that you show up and serve: The show must go on. We can all stand proudly and bear witness to those magical, raw human performances when we think the performers cannot carry on and yet, somehow, they do.
- Bring your own joy
The world has its share of darkness. And yet it is not so heavy that a song cannot bring us together for a moment to consider the joy of being alive, the magic of hearing a beat and watching someone in his or her element, sharing that gift with the world. More dancing, more music and more sunshine in our pocket. Bring on the joy!
Usually people try to mute or skip commercials, but not during the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday is as much about the commercials as it is about the game itself—and brands know this. Those of us who stayed seated during the breaks were treated to a medley of moving messages and a few puzzling stories. Hard to say who won the airwaves, but a few standout messages gave me some important reminders.
- Say something
When you have a platform, don’t waste it—especially if you paid (on average) more than $5 million for a 30-second spot. And why not say something that shifts the universe or moves someone to feel something? Or, even better, say something that inspires someone to do something never before considered. Thank you to the U.S. Olympic Committee, Toyota, Budweiser, Peta and Coca-Cola for reminding me what we love about humanity and what winning really means.
- Clever is complicated
It is an amazing thing to make someone laugh, and it is a true art form. There were a number of legitimate laughs, of course, but a number of them were forced at best. Not because they were not funny, but because they were just trying too hard to be funny—or worse, clever. Those who delivered well were clever in a different way (Amazon, Febreze and M & M). Clever, meaning these companies found the unique angle or new story that could capture our attention (and keep it), pulling us into a narrative to bond with their brands. Clever comes with a job well-done. When clever tries to lead us, we are left with an empty laugh.
- Have grace in the face of defeat
The Super Bowl is American-made. It is a valor-filled display of two teams who have toiled to earn the privilege to play. It is a story of perseverance. Those attending the event often express that they have an elevated sense of pride in their country. When you are representing something that matters, everyone is looking—more than 100 million people, to be exact. So, what you say or do not say and how you show up (whether you win or lose) is what matters. To that end, I take my hat off to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and his champion team for their grace in the agony of defeat. Sportsmanship is a pleasure to watch and was a wonderful part of Sunday’s match.
Photo credit: Timothy A. Clary, Getty Images