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VICTORY – THE ONE AND ONLY END GAME

As I travel around the country, speaking and addressing companies and other types of organizations, a major focus of my speeches and talks is what I call the “Gold Medal Strategies” that are the hallmark and conduct of great teams.

There are nine Gold Medal Strategies, and they are the centerpiece of, and discussed in depth in, my business book, Gold Medal Strategies: Business Lessons From America’s Miracle Team.

Among those strategies is, “Victory – The One And Only End Game.”

“Victory – The One and Only End Game” is the title of chapter 9 of the Gold Medal Strategies book.

In essence, this strategy is about achieving the final goal and reaching the final objective.

As I often say, “Great teams don’t merely practice and train like champions – they also compete like champions.”

For, you see, you are not a great team if you do everything right, and you demonstrate and follow the qualities and strategies of a great team, yet you do not achieve what for your group has been identified as the ultimate goal and objective.

This is why having clearing defined goals and objectives – those in which everyone on your team are in agreement, and to which everyone is committed – is essential to greatness.

After our extraordinary upset of the Soviets at Lake Placid, our coach, Herb Brooks, reminded us that there was one game to go, and that we had “won nothing yet.” He also told us that if we lost the next game to the Finns … and instead of clinching the gold medal, squandering it … we would take that failure to our “(expletive) graves.”

He knew, we knew, that victory was the one and only end game.

People often ask me what was my favorite moment of the 1980 Winter Olympics. My response, always, is that my favorite moment was the medal ceremony and podium.

For there we were; my teammates and I had received our gold medals. As was the protocol, for Olympic team medal ceremonies, only the captain of each medal winning team would be on the podium as the national anthem of the winning country played. All the other players from the medal winning teams assembled behind the podium.

My teammates, I … we stood in the distance, facing over the shoulder and above the head of our captain, Mike Eruzione. To Mike’s right was the captain of the silver medal winning Soviet team, and to his right the captain of the Swedish team, the bronze medal winners.

Then our anthem – the anthem of the United States of America – began to play, and the flag of our nation began to rise … at the same pace as the flags of the Soviet Union and Sweden … but higher and above the other flags.

Soul stirring does not begin to adequately describe the emotion of Team USA.

And, then, when the Stars & Stripes had reached its apogee, and the final note of the Star Spangled Banner had sounded, Mike turned around and beckoned us to join him on the podium … and, of course, we did … every one of us.

We had done it – something epic and something truly great.

Victory – The One and Only End Game.

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