For about six weeks every year, beginning in late December and continuing through early February, football fans get the ultimate fix: the college bowl games, The NFL play-offs and, finally, the Super Bowl. It’s also an annual refresher course in winning and losing that separates the champs from the also-rans.

For a moment, consider the losers in these annual contests. The also-rans work mighty hard to get to those games in the first place. What causes these exceptional teams to be eliminated? Much of the reason can be traced to split-second breakdowns in what you might call the confidence game.

Legendary Alabama football coach Paul Bryant retired with 323 wins over 38 seasons. “Bear” Bryant used to say that members of a winning team needed five things:

1. Tell me what you expect from me.

2. Give me an opportunity to perform.

3. Let me know how I’m doing.

4. Give me guidance when I need it.

5. Reward me according to my contributions.


Winners need straight information. Too often, you’ll hear salespeople complain they’re not getting a constant flow of confident support. Confidence is surely important. So is exact and clear direction at critical moments. When everything is on the line, make sure you’re listening for the right signals.

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