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Be still my heart... Peyton Manning wants flowers

Go figure. I prepared the night before, learning all the football terms that I thought would be the focal point of Peyton Manning’s keynote at PMA’s Fresh Summit 2018. I researched the term, “blitz.” I learned about “audibles.” I even discovered the term, “hail mary,” and realized I’ve done a few of those in my career!

The day had come. The packed audience was nervous with anticipation as they waited for the two-time Super Bowl champion and five-time NFL MVP to take stage. Peyton Manning appeared, the crowd roared and I immediately flipped to my notebook page titled, “football definitions.” I was “ready for some football!”  

peyton kPeyton Manning, two-time Super Bowl champion and five-time NFL MVP, presents the keynote at PMA’s Fresh Summit 2018.But then, the unexpected happened. Instead of a virile, stereotypical football opening, Peyton adjusted the mic, navigated the audience and uttered, “Where are my flowers?” I thought coming here, I’d at least get some flowers!”

It was then I realized that this session would run much deeper than a football game and be much more intimate than a pep rally. I turned the page on “football terms” and opened a blank page to take notes.

Indeed, Peyton Manning understands the sport of football. But many people understand the sport of football and are never as successful. Manning’s success was epitomized by understanding the needs of the business, developing strategies, paving the way, exemplifying team spirit and breaking down the obstacles in his path. Within the first five minutes, the audience realized that they weren’t going to hear about a bunch of football games.

As our industry enters the most important holidays of the year, the lessons resonated. There will be victories. There will be defeats. There will be times when the win comes from deep inside, despite late shipments, tight labor, mis-slotted merchandise, quality rejections and many other obstacles that surface during the holidays.

Peyton Manning, the winner, described Peyton Manning, the loser, and how he learned to pivot when the pressure was put upon him to produce a victory against all odds. Sound familiar?    

Here are some of my favorite take-aways as we enter the playing field of the 2018 holiday season:

The power is not in “you.” The power is in “all of you.”

Become the “glue” that the team needs.

Maintain a winning mindset-the game plan must be executed.

Be fast. Be fluid.

Learn as fast as the world is changing. Your fans (customers) expect it.

Define the responsibility of each team member.

Create an atmosphere of discipline.

Be aggressive toward the goal.

Create an “edge” by diligent preparation.

Admit when you don’t have all the answers.

Change direction

Lead disruption

Don’t let up until the final whistle blows.

Be resilient and learn how to pivot.

Quarterbacks get intercepted a lot — no matter how good they are.

Make a bad play? Learn to get back to zero and erase it from your mind.

Don’t let setbacks paralyze you. You must be in top mental form to complete the game.

Don’t be out-played by your competitor.

Pivot. Change actions without changing the goal.

Don’t just “play to win.” You must play to excel.

Keep moving the “chains” down the field.

Master the art of decisiveness.

The pressure is toughest when you’re in the lead because the competition has less to lose.

The team relies on quick and confident direction.

Master the art of inquiry.

Listen carefully. Silence has power.

Questions open windows and uncover solutions.

Take control of the huddle.

Influence others through leadership.

Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Master the art of teamwork.

Set common goals as well as individual goals.

Don’t surrender before the game is over.

Never stop being coached.

Are you as good today as you ever have been?

Either you’re getting better, or you’re getting worse.

Embrace continuous learning.

Return to basics. Those are the things that win games.

Become skilled at recognizing strategies that no one else sees.

In 2009, Manning was named the best player in the NFL and Fox Sports. Sports Illustrated named him the NFL player of the decade of the 2000s and he won nine ESPY Awards in his career.

Manning never missed an NFL game in his career, but was forced to miss the entire 2011 season due to two neck surgeries that year.

After 18 NFL seasons, Manning retired from the sport of football in 2016.

As we prepare for the busiest holiday season of the year, we should be encouraged and strengthened by Manning’s final quote: “The most valuable player is the one that makes the most players valuable.”

May your holiday season be filled with award-winning touchdowns, minimal fumbles and a steady force of MVPs.  

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