Are You Playing Not to Lose or Are You Playing to Win?

Even the casual sports fan knows the Cleveland Browns have struggled for the last 19 years.  (It pains me to write that.)  After losing every game last year, the Browns teased their incredibly loyal, blindly optimistic fan base by tying their archrival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, last week.  On Sunday, they lost to the New Orleans Saints, 21-18, after leading 12-3 entering the 4th quarter.  The Browns’ kicker missed two field goals and two extra points.  NFL kickers normally do not miss four kicks in a game.

In both games, the Browns had a chance to win.  The coaches had good game plans.  For the most part, the players executed well.  At crucial moments, however, things fell apart.  Missed assignments.  Missed tackles.  Crucial penalties.  And, of course, mixed kicks.  I have asked myself why these mistakes happen.  I submit that the Browns’ culture of losing has become the dominant belief by the team.  They know something will go wrong.  They expect something to go wrong.  To borrow a sports cliché, they play not to lose instead of playing to win.

Are you playing not to lose or are you playing to win?  If you are in sales, do you make the extra phone call?  If you’re in manufacturing, do you try something different?  It’s easy to get comfortable with the way things are.  If you get too comfortable, just remember, someone wants what you have.  They’ll work to take it from you.  Work harder.  Remember, whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.

Postscript:  Eventually, the Browns win a game and hopefully that will turn them in the right direction.  Of course, most fans thought they couldn’t do worse than a 1 and 15 record two years ago and then they proceeded to go 0 and 16 last year…

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