Do You Have the Knowledge to be Clutch?

Eli Manning is always cool, calm and collected - which is another way of saying he’s always prepared.

As you may already know, I’m holding a contest on my facebook page where the winner will get a signed Eli Manning NY Giants helmet. (If you haven’t already, throw your name in the ring!)

Eli’s been a Steiner client since he entered the NFL in 2004. From the get-go, he impressed me as being an old soul: wise, humble, kind. Whenever we need him to do something for us, Eli is super generous with his time.

I thought this would be a good time to tell you one of my favorite Eli anecdotes.

At a Times Talk earlier this year, I asked Eli if he was at all nervous when he took the field to begin the two fourth quarter game-winning drives that propelled the Giants to their last two Super Bowl victories. Eli said (paraphrasing): “I was not nervous at all. We had worked on the plays over and over. I knew what I had to do. You only get nervous when you’re unsure of what you’re doing.”

I thought that was really well-said. We tend to think of clutch performers like Eli, or Derek Jeter, or Mariano Rivera, or Kobe Bryant, as having “ice water” in their veins. We fall into this trap of thinking they were just born that way: naturally immune to tension and pressure.

But aside from being clutch, the athletes I just named have something else in common: they’re all tireless workers. They’re the first ones in the gym, last to leave. They stay up all night watching tape. They eat, breathe and sleep their sports. They do their homework. They’re always prepared.

In short, these guys do what it takes to gain consummate knowledge of their craft. When you attain consummate knowledge of the task at hand - and what you need to do to get it done - nothing can rattle you. Things might not always go your way in the end, but you’ll execute your job with confidence, knowing there was nothing more you could do. Sure, Eli might throw a pick, Derek might hit a line drive directly at a fielder, and Kobe might miss a game-tying shot, but those outcomes won’t be the product of fear or frayed nerves.

At this point in my career, when I go into a business meeting to work out a deal, or  negotiate one thing or another, I’m always confident. In my life, I have insecurities like anyone, but when it comes to sports marketing, I’ve done thirty years of homework. I have consummate knowledge of this industry. I might not always be able to get everything I want at the negotiating table, but it’s never because I got flustered by what went down. I walk into those meetings with confidence, and I walk out with confidence, no matter what.

What about you? Do you do all your homework? Do you have consummate knowledge of the project you’re working on? Of your industry? Can you do your job knowing that, no matter what else happens, you left it all on the field?


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