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Are You in Their Head?

College football has once again intercepted a powerful life lesson in the quest for greatness.

This week, the value comes with one glance at the Top 5 Associated Press rankings. Alabama is the top rated team in college football followed by LSU, Oregon, Florida State and Georgia. It’s a list of football powerhouses that are the dreaded matchup for every other team on their respective schedules. Just imagine the kaleidoscope of emotions that run through opponent’s minds when they line up against the firepower and winning tradition of the Crimson Tide. In many cases, these NCAA treasures have beaten their opponents before they’ve ever stepped on the field.

During the 1990s, Hall of Fame head coach Bobby Bowden spearheaded a football dynasty at Florida State that featured size, speed, skill and intimidation. The latter wasn’t achieved by bullying teams with late hits and excessive trash talk… Instead FSU weakened the opposition simply by the way they carried themselves to the field.

Recently, college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit reflected on their dominance. He said that when the Seminoles walked out of the tunnel “9 of the 11 teams that they used to play during that era wanted to go back into the locker room.” Bowden would lead his players out of the tunnel at Doak Campbell Stadium arm-in-arm, helmets carried workmanlike, and with a focus that made even the most prepared teams have second thoughts. They were already in the other team’s heads before they even reached the 50-yard line.

Lots of companies and businesses prove themselves as winners long before the first words or marketing pitches are ever spoken. In some cases it’s not about being the best company or even having the best product. Sometimes it is how the sales team navigates a meeting.

Opposing teams knew FSU’s product… They knew of the goosebumps felt when a National Champion head coach led his team confidently onto the field. They knew of the crowd that would erupt in support.

Years ago, I interviewed a college head coach who made it a priority not only to practice their gameplan, but also to practice his team’s entrance. He specifically worked with his team on how to get off the bus before a game. He wanted his players to have an air of confidence that would start setting the tone for success.

How do you carry yourself? Has anyone ever carried themselves so well into a meeting with you that it left you impressed?

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About Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, leadership expert and executive coach.

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