My hometown city, Philadelphia, is reveling in our Super Bowl win and this past week was like living in an Eagles Nation! Hundreds of thousands of fans descended upon Philly for the Super Bowl Parade. They came to celebrate and pay tribute to a remarkable team that exemplified true leadership and emerged triumphant in the face of adversity and brilliant foes.

Whether you’re a fan or an adversary, it’s worthwhile to note the profound leadership lessons that Super Bowl LII taught us.

10 Leadership Lessons from Eagles Nation

 1. Mission Reigns Supreme
The 2017 season, led by second-year phenom quarterback, Carson Wentz, was the reason that hope began to bubble up and lead fans to believe that we might be witnessing something special. That is, until, with 3 games left to play, Wentz was lost to a major injury.

Wentz was the last to join a long list of Eagles players lost to injury, many of whom played a key role on the team. Most thought this was the end. Certainly the experts did. Philly fans went from elated to concerned…and their wishful thinking became worried consternation as their regular season ended with a loss. But in the playoffs, the underdog Eagles recaptured the resounding hope of a journey to the Super Bowl. The team, in spite of the doubters and the adversity, made it very clear they would not be deterred or denied.

The Eagles had a mission that they lived and breathed…a mission to finally show appreciation to their devoted fans, a mission to show what they’re made of, a mission to triumph for the first time as Super Bowl Champions!
Leaders know that their mission is the purpose that drives them, sustains them and allows them to come out on top. It’s the target that’s pierced with fierce arrows, despite any resistance that slows them down. Everything they think, create, act on, rally around is in support of this mission.

When mission reigns supreme, we are able to harness our resources, stave off adversities and stay alive!

2. Believe + Trust Divine Force
Somehow it felt like there was divine intervention at the end of the football season. There was a feeling that there was something beyond us that was taking us through.

There was probably no greater power behind the ultimate outcome than the unwavering belief that we could win. And that belief created a force that guided us through every step, every play, every failure, and every rebound.

Leaders know you’re not likely to succeed if you don’t believe at your core. Yes, you may believe in your mission, but you also must believe and trust in your own ability to achieve it. Stepping out with that courage breeds a culture of possibility, creates a spiritual force and helps draw other believers to you that you need on your team to make this happen.

And it’s this place we can go back to, to reset when the going gets tough or we’re faced with defeat. Belief must be embraced to navigate every doubt, obstacle, and threat in order to get to the other side.

3. Team Cohesion
Super Bowl LII was won by a team, not by the individual stars. All were stars. The ability to stick together, support and believe in each other was the glue that held this team together. They needed to do this. And they needed to do this together.
Leadership isn’t about one star. It’s about unifying an all-star team. It’s influencing and empowering others toward the optimal achievement of the same mission or goal. The power is in the collective, not the individual brilliant stars.

 4. Expert Strategic Plays + Out of the Box Thinking
 If you play predictably, you’re probably going to lose predictably. The incredible “out of the box thinking” and calls made by the head coach, Doug Pederson, showed that it wasn’t only talent that was going to bring the Lombardi Trophy home but rather creative, well-executed plays.

No matter how you slice it and dice it, leaders must be smart in the field of strategic play. This comes down to demonstrating risky but smart decisions and choices even when the rallying cry is to play it safe. Outrageous, unbelievable plays were the critical, turning points of this game. No safety, just big, bold moves that had to work. And boy did they work.

A true leader acts with big, bold courage to do the unthinkable, the unimaginable in the face of a bigger mission.

This leader understands the competition, the risks, and demonstrates out of the box thinking that translates into unimaginable moves that are executed with guts.

5. Confidence, Calm And A Competent Captain At The Helm
Nick Foles, our second string quarterback, who stepped in after Carson Wentz fell, was named the Super Bowl MVP. He executed brilliantly while all the time exuding an air of confidence and calm.

You believed he could actually do it. You believed he would do it. It wasn’t about him being the star, it was about him settling into his role and executing competently with confidence and calm while rallying his team around him.

Leaders execute amidst storms all the time. It’s your steady, unwavering belief in your role and the people around you that brings the goal & mission home.

6. An Eye On The Moment – Not Caught Up In The “Far Out”
The magic was in the moment, throughout the game. The eye wasn’t on the prize. The eye was on what we needed to do right here, right now to take the next step. At no time did they choke, or flake out because of the pressure of the ultimate prize. The flow was in the now with an eye on the moment.

Leaders will tell you that of course there’s a desire to reach the goal and mission. But the magic, just like in this game, is in the moment. Executing one step at a time, not getting ahead of yourself, embodying with every moment, every step the magic that would ultimately get you where you want to go.

7. Support – No Going It Alone
Leaders know you cannot do it alone. There’s no way. It takes a team of change-makers, thought leaders, believers, coaches, and devotees to make it to the point of no return.

All were present in this game. All had an impact on the outcome. From the brilliance of the coach who called the plays, to the brilliance of the players who executed the plays with spirit and heartfelt drive, to the brilliance of the fans who cheered for the plays, the support was constant. The brilliance was in the collective.

8. Know Your Competition
We faced a formidable foe, the New England Patriots, the best there is. We started seeing them overtake us. Their star quarterback Tom Brady got into his flow and we were on the brink of defeat. We knew that in order to stop that, we had to get to him. We understood our competition.

Leaders know what they’re up against. They study the competition. They prepare fully so as not to become unwitting rivals.

Heart and soul are powerful, but knowledge is essential. Knowledge sets the stage for breaking ground and emerging as a fierce proponent of your mission. Otherwise, you’re playing a solo game. And solo games are easily overtaken.

9. Run Towards The Challenge
In the second half of the game we were losing ground. Our brilliant adversary did what they do best, and pursued 3 fast-paced drives in a row that all resulted in touchdowns. It was starting to feel like the game would be lost for us. They had found their flow, their brilliance, and were displaying the core of what made them a dynasty.

But just when the fans were starting to lose faith because our team was being overtaken, the Eagles ran towards the challenge. One player, Brandon Graham, summoned whatever strength and ability he had left to finally break the unbreakable Patriot offense…in the one moment of the game they had left to them…and strip the ball from Tom Brady before he could throw what likely would have been the Patriot’s next game-winning pass.

Leaders know that running towards the challenge takes grit, stamina, and a courageous will to succeed. When they confront challenges it allows them to face the new normal and come up with new and creative ways to build momentum and achieve what they want. They know the cost of not doing so is far greater than the harsh reality of the challenge itself.

10. Ability To Pivot
After the loss of Carson Wentz, the Eagles were never expected to make the playoffs much less win the Super Bowl. It would have been easy to chalk up an ultimate loss to bad luck in that their “all-star” team was deeply disrupted.

But instead, they were fierce in the face of formidable foes. They seized the opportunity to pivot and prevail. They leaned in, recognizing they still had enough talent and chemistry in their ranks to make it happen and reoriented the team around Nick Foles. They reignited the possibility this still “could be”. They quietly and confidently pivoted…believing this was still the team, this was still the time.

Leaders trust their ability to adapt and adjust as required. If you’re faced with adverse circumstances then it’s incumbent upon you to pivot and develop effective ways of dealing with the circumstances so that your ultimate goal and mission is achieved.

This story of the Eagles as Super Bowl Champions in 2018 is a profound story of underdogs who came so far, faced severe challenges, ignited hearts and stood strong in their mission and belief that they could finally do this…not as planned or imagined…but still do this.

Leaders, as change makers, understand this story. And they understand what it takes to fuel and propel the change.

As you can see, I was personally inspired by this story because it’s been exciting to see and it is a reminder to me of the power that all things are possible. As leaders, it’s our mission to inspire and help make the change we so wish to see in the world.

With heart and brilliance extended to all the compassionate leaders in our world,