Rain Can Make Your Parade

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Retired Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy is a master of helping those around him visualize victory. He’s been that way ever since his high school playing days, which is one reason I worked so hard to help recruit him for the Minnesota Gophers, where he was a college gridiron star. In fact, I was extremely proud when Tony wrote in his blockbuster 2007 book, Quiet Strength, “Harvey, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.”

It’s no surprise that his quarterback Peyton Manning is a big believer in practice and preparation. You might recall the constant, relentless, sidewinding rain at the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami between Indianapolis and the Chicago bears. The terrible weather was ideal for the Bears’ running game, but the conditions looked bad for Indianapolis, which plays in a 60-degree indoor stadium.

However, just the opposite happened.The Bears turned the ball over five times and quarterback Rex Grossman bobbled two snaps, losing 10 yards on one to kill a scoring drive. Indianapolis recovered the other fumble. Manning encountered no such game-changing calamities. Why? Every season Manning practices the “wet-ball drill” with the starting center, currently Jeff Saturday. Manning fills a bucket full of water, grabs a football and heads out to the field. He dips the ball into the bucket and practices snap after snap.

Manning said his center hates the wet-ball drill, and he admitted getting a little bored with it himself. But they still do it every year. When asked about the infamous wet-ball drill in the raucous Colts locker room after their Super Bowl win, Saturday laughed and said, “Not my favorite drill. But it paid dividends tonight.

When you visualize, anticipate negatives and how you will overcome them. Then create a practice plan that makes your response instantaneous. At every meeting I hold with my managers, we end with the same exercise. We go around the room, and I ask, what are you going to do to fix the problem? What matters isn’t that a customer pounces on you with an overwhelming objection, for instance. What matters is that you’ll deliver an unbeatable answer with utter confidence when that objection comes sailing at you.

Mackay’s Moral: Anticipating catastrophe is the surest way to avert it.

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