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Business Leaders – Avoid A March Madness Meltdown

Business Leaders – Avoid A March Madness Meltdown

You’ve made it to the Big Dance – the Big Tournament! Perhaps you have an outstanding history of success, or perhaps you “got hot” at the right time, and now you get your big shot at your version of “March Madness”. But what happens if – on your biggest of stages – you have a March Madness Meltdown? You CHOKE!

Answer: You go home defeated!

The Kansas Jayhawks had a basketball team fresh off a runner-up finish in the 2012 basketball tournament. They led a freshmen-heavy Michigan Wolverines team by 14 points with less than 7 minutes to play, and they still led by 5 points with 21 seconds left. If they make their free throws, or just foul on the last possession to prevent a tying 3-pointer, they advance to the next round. The Jayhawks still had a chance to tie or win in overtime, but a senior starter got tight in the waning seconds. He passes up the shot by passing to a less inexperienced teammate with only two seconds left. Kansas misses the final shot, and Michigan advances.

1. Fear of Failure Leads to Failure

When you tighten up, and go away from your game plan and strengths, bad things happen. Fear of failure can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Kansas players and coaches should have continued to “play to win” versus “playing not to lose”. They could have avoided a March Madness Meltdown by sticking to the fundamentals!

If you’ve worked to get your business to the cusp of success, you owe it to yourself to finish strong and earn the victory. Do not tighten up and veer from your game plan (corporate strategy) and goal (becoming a successful and sustainable business).

2. Belief and Effort Create Luck

There is another side to this story. Michigan was the team down by 5 with 21 seconds left. They never stopped believing that they were going to win the game. That belief, and their frantic efforts, created the luck of that last second shot to tie the game. When their opposition became tentative and off-balanced, the Wolverines attacked the weaknesses and exploited the growing lack of confidence.

Let your naysayers call you lucky! Keep putting in the extra effort, surrounding yourself with believers in the company vision, and challenging the incumbent market leaders. Remember when Apple was a joke? And how could Amazon and Netflix ever hope to compete against brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Blockbuster? Leave the knee jerk reactions to competitors watching you “come up fast in the rear view mirror”. Keep your focus on winning with fundamentals, patience, and out-hustling the competition.

So, who will you be: The company that has a March Madness Meltdown and chokes away a golden opportunity to build your legacy, or the company with the never-say-die attitude that “plays to win” until the final whistle blows?

Photo Credit: Bill Self during timeout by SD Dirk, on Flickr

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and grandsons! My career has blessed me to the point I was able to start a new consultancy in 2018: Analytic Integrity. I look to provide analytic experience, and business integrity, to an Analytics world while helping data-driven organizations mature. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin.

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