What Can Be Learned From Deflated Footballs?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last week, you’ve heard about the controversy of the Patriots being accused of deflating their footballs by about two pounds per square inch in order to give them an advantage in their last playoff game against the Colts.

A ball with lower inflation is said to be easier to grip. Winning the game meant another trip for the Patriots to the Super Bowl.

If you remember, back in 2007, the Patriots were caught videotaping the defensive signals during the game against the Jets. Coach Bill Belichick paid a $500,000 fine along with a $250,000 fine paid by the team. They also were docked a draft pick in 2008.

So why is it possible that many people think the Patriots are guilty?

That saying, “The best indicator of future performance is past behavior,” clearly comes into play. Because the Patriots have been found cheating in the past, it’s not a stretch to think they are capable of doing it again.

Trust has been lost.

While it clearly takes time to build trust, it can be lost in an instant!

While I have no idea if anyone in the Patriots organization had anything to do with the deflated footballs, this incident offers three big lessons:

  • Do your work and do your best! When the stakes are high, people can operate in fear. People can become so afraid of NOT winning the big prize that they may do almost anything to ensure victory. This includes checking their integrity at the door. When I think about what I’m afraid of, it’s typically things that I have no control over. If I spend my energy on focusing on what I CAN control, that fear takes a back seat. I can control how prepared and knowledgeable I am. Time spent concentrating on my preparation takes the time away from worrying and coming up with ways to short-cut my success.
  • Your reputation = your brand. What are you known for? Your reputation is built on your behaviors over time. Define what you want to be known for and then think about what behaviors need to be consistently demonstrated to gain that reputation. The key word here is CONSISTENTLY. It takes time to build your reputation so quick fixes are not an option. People will come to trust you when your words and actions are in alignment and you are true to yourself, day-in and day-out.
  • You may find “success,” but at what cost? Depending on your definition of “success,” there are some sacrifices that are worthwhile and some that “cost” you more than you gain. If you win and have cheated, over time it will feel like a hollow victory. If you get that promotion yet there are broken relationships littering your path, the cost is pretty steep. Be thoughtful in your journey and check-in with yourself to ensure that the sacrifices you are making today are going to lead to long-term happiness. You’ve got to look at that person in the mirror for the rest of your life … do you like what you see?

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Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at mduesterhoft@people-results.com