Are You Monday Morning Quarterbacking Your Business?

Last night while I was watching the New England Patriots snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a Super Bowl XLIX (2015) rematch against the Seattle Seahawks, I started thinking about what the Monday morning quarterbacks would say.

There was a lot of fodder for Monday morning quarterbacking in last night’s game. Here are two teams that are fairly evenly matched, both on top of their divisions and have been for the past several years, both not quite playing up to the high standards they set for themselves. (Of course, having been a Detroit Lions fan my whole life, I have no idea what that experience must be like for fans. Although the Lions do find themselves on top of their division at the moment, in yet another example of how this year continues to be full of surprises in sports.)

We also saw A LOT of Monday morning quarterbacking of last week’s US Presidential election. Everyone has an opinion about what someone else woulda, shoulda, coulda done differently to see the results they wanted. Fun, right?

What is true of sports and politics is true of business too, no one likes a Monday morning quarterback. It’s easy to look back on events, choices, and tough calls in retrospect and criticize the decisions others make pontificating about what we would have done differently. But it’s hard to make the tough calls in the moment. And it’s even harder to learn from our own missteps.

So, the next time you’re tempted to Monday morning quarterback your business (or the business decisions others make,) instead of beating yourself up over the past, get up and get back out on the field better prepared for your next big challenge.

Here are three tips to help you avoid Monday morning quarterback syndrome:

1. Stick to your playbook.

As the quarterback of your business, the surest way to avoid feeling the need to criticize past choices in hindsight is to make decisions you are proud of. This means having a strategy for your business that can guide you when its time to make the tough calls. Your business playbook should include short-term and long-term goals. It should include your mission statement and core values. If you are unsure whether to take on a project, hire someone, or maintain a partnership that has run its course, look at the big picture.

A couple weeks ago, I spent two days at a Mastermind workshop creating my 2017 business playbook. I was surprised at how inspiring and mentally soothing it was to sit down and crunch some numbers.

Now I have a plan for generating revenue and I’m going to be ready to hit the ground running in 2017. Still, I couldn’t have created that plan without having first determined what my core values are and revisiting my reason d’etre for the business.

2. Avoid getting sacked by your competition.

You know that your competition would come at you if they could. Everyone is trying to take their share of the market. If you don’t keep close tabs on your competition, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to getting sacked.

So, make sure you scan downfield and know where you are relative to your closest competitors. While it’s always best to focus on what you do best, it’s also helpful to know where you stand relative to others, so you can say with confidence what makes your business uniquely valuable. Don’t let yourself get caught with your guard down.

3. Don’t be afraid to call an audible.

While sticking to your playbook and knowing your competition are sound advice, be careful not to get too locked into particular patterns. In football, when a quarterback reads that the defense has picked up on the initial play he called, he quickly changes the play by calling an audible.

In business, it can also be beneficial to change up old patterns or ‘plays’ that you see won’t work. If you see that your email drip marketing campaign isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change course and try something different. Keep in mind that the whole point of calling the audible is to confuse the defense and of course, it is self-defeating if the audible also confuses the offense. So if you do change things up, be clear with your team.

My two cents about blogging about the election

Finally, a lot of business owners I’ve spoken to during the past week are considering whether to blog about the election. Here’s my take: I am a big believer in staying true to yourself. If you have something to get off of your chest, find a way to get it off your chest because whatever baggage you carry will affect your business.

Getting rid of the baggage might mean blogging about how you see a Trump presidency affecting your industry. It might mean blogging about your strategy for making it through Thanksgiving with your politically vocal in-laws. Or it might mean privately venting to a good friend or to your therapist. You have to do what works for you.

I can’t tell you whether to blog about the election. But if you do decide to go this route, practically speaking, you’ll want to publish it this week. Next week, the holidays will roll over us like a wave and visions of sugarplums will replace visions of cotton candy hair until at least the first week in January.

If want help expressing your thoughts about the election, sports, or your business, contact me. No Monday morning quarterbacking, I promise.

Photo credit: Elnur / 123RF Stock Photo