I’m not a big football or Super Bowl fan. Don’t hold it against me. However, I am a big innovation and creativity fan, and Super Bowl LI reinforced some great lessons about creativity and innovation. Here are five of them.

Don’t listen to nay-sayers.

Several times during the game you heard that never in the history of Super Bowl did a team make up a 20-point deficit (or was is 10 points?). You also heard that never was there a tie game in Super Bowl history, and that never was there an over-time play. In your life, there are going to be people who will tell you what cannot be done, simply because it was never done before. To be creative, choose not to listen to those who tell you that you can’t.

Don’t assume restrictions that don’t exist.

Often, when I deliver a keynote speech or a creativity workshop, I ask participants to build a structure out of paper. Some will cut the paper into smaller pieces, even though the instructions do not specifically allow for that. At the end, with a firm tone of voice, I ask them “did the instructions allow you to cut the paper???” More often than not, they realize they have done something wrong. But there is always someone who will challenge me and say “the instruction didn’t say we can’t, either!” Correct! If the Patriots would have let those historic facts restrict them–they would not have won. To be creative, don’t assume restrictions that don’t really exist.

There is a first for everything.

Probably realizing that the odds are against them, the Patriots with their quarterback and head coach realized that if they win–they will have to be “first” in many areas. Instead of assuming they will not–they broke those records, and created many “firsts.” To be creative, instead of letting the fact that nobody has done something before you stop you in any way, tell yourself “I’m going to be first!” A caveat, though: try to understand why this was never done before. Maybe there is a reason that will stop you from doing it as well. Once you find that the reasons this was never done before do not apply to you, or do not prevent you from being first–be first!

It’s all mental–focus on the present.

As I learned from an Olympic gold medalist, 95% of winning is mental. Both teams played hard at the Super Bowl. Both were strong teams. Both had the skills required to win the game. When the score was 28-3 in the third quarter, one team was under stronger mental pressure, but they didn’t cave to it. They saw themselves winning the game, and they focused on the current play. Not the odds. To be creative–you have to first believe that you are creative, and focus on your current play. Not the previous plays or your odds.

Performance is about performance, not politics

Finally, do what you do best. During and after the recent presidential elections, we witnessed many talented performers take political stands. We have seen large companies such as Starbucks, Lyft, Uber and more do the same. As a result, they lost fans and clients. Clients that gave them business because of what they do best, and not because of their political positions. I’ll admit, I was ready for Lady Gaga to take a political stand. But she didn’t. She delivered one of the best Super Bowl half-time performances. She focused on what she does best, and it paid off.


Oh, and one more thing–you may wonder how were there hundreds of drones in the air during Lady Gaga’s performance when the FAA’s implemented Temporary Flight Restrictions for drones? Simple–that part was recorded before the game…

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