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They Scored 91 Points After Time Expired: Hope Matters

company culture leadership mindset personal development undivided life Jun 10, 2024
a large crowd on the field after a Texas A&M football game

I will never forget my disappointment in November 2018, when I watched my Fighting Texas Aggie football team throw an interception and lose to LSU near the end of the fourth quarter. I clicked the TV off and went to bed.

The next morning, I was reading various news stories and posts about the game and couldn’t imagine what was being said. Texas A&M won the game and the score that was being shown was nonsensical. The interception was overruled when the replay showed that the A&M quarterback accidentally took a knee before lobbing up his desperation pass. As the final seconds of the game ticked away, the Aggies threw a 19-yard touchdown pass and sent the game into overtime. Those 7 points were added to the scoreboard with zero seconds left in regulation.

No one expected a game-tying touchdown pass to lead to SEVEN overtimes, during which the two teams combined for an additional 84 points. The game became one of the longest and highest-scoring in history. All told, 91 points were scored after the final seconds ran off the clock.

These statistics seem improbable, but obviously, they are not impossible.

During that same week, I was leading an all-company meeting, and our team was well behind our targets for growth that year. With only six weeks left in the year, including the Christmas holiday, it seemed unlikely that we would meet our target, and team members were already counting on a reduced end-of-year performance bonus.

I closed that meeting by reading out the statistics from the recent football game. If two teams can score 91 points after time has expired, certainly we can reach our growth targets with over a month to go. I acknowledged that we would need a few big things to go our way and encouraged the team to believe there was a chance.

After everyone left the room, one of our operations leaders pulled me aside and asked why I would try to give the team hope when all the sales trends and statistics said that our goal was nearly impossible to reach. I explained my views in simple terms:

• Nearly impossible isn’t a thing.
• Something is either possible or impossible.
• Improbable is a thing and the statistics behind it belong to some situations, not all situations.
• Hope makes big things happen.
• With hope, the team still plays to win.
• An absence of hope is basically a foregone conclusion. We will not reach the goal because we “know” that we can’t do it.

While our team got busy helping clients and executing with near perfection in their communication, effectiveness, and teamwork, our competitors did the exact opposite. I talked with several people in my industry who repeated the phrases “As we all know, no one signs electricity contracts in December” and “We are just focused on next year since this one is already over.”

I loved hearing this from our competitors. Their owners and sales leaders had already turned off the game and counted it as a loss, but our team knew there were a lot of points left to score before the seventh overtime ended.

And guess what… We did it.

We finished 2018 with the strongest December sales in the company’s history.

We beat our annual target thanks to the team's combined efforts and their belief that sometimes the improbable becomes reality.

Hope matters.

It may not always lead to a win, but you can be certain that without hope you are always planning for a loss.

Leaders cast a noble vision and instill hope, confidence, and trust in their team to get there.

Do you inspire the same in others with your leadership?

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