I was one of over a million people that watched the Super Bowl last night. I really wasn't rooting for any team because I roll deep with #PatriotsNation. I had to admit, I was low-key cheering for Cam Newton. As a young black quarterback, I felt like he had an amazing season, taking his team to 16 out of 17 victorious wins in the regular season. That's an amazing task considering that only six black quarterbacks have even played in the Super Bowl. Only two black quarterbacks have actually won in the 70+ year's league history. So if Cam were to have won last night, it would have been a great moment, especially in February as we celebrate Black History Month. But this isn't about race. At least not for me.
After I returned home last night, I went on social media to see pictures of the winning team's celebration and read all the tweets about the game. And then I saw it.
The first time I watched the video clip of Cam walking out on the media, I laughed. I watched the video again a few more times and felt sad for him. I heard the chatter from everywhere calling him a "poor sport" and a sorry loser. And I thought about the lessons to be learned from Cam Newton. For anyone, not just athletes worldwide. We all have dealt with some form of competition whether it be at school, work or even within our own household and watching Cam last night can teach us six things.
1. Win with humility. Stay humble.
Everyone wants to win. And when you beat a major opponent, especially in a "big game," you feel proud. Whether it be getting that big promotion or signing a huge client, you want to shout it to the world, but this is where celebrating with grace comes in handy. While we are on cloud nine after coming out victorious, there's probably someone else on the losing side and then there might be "spectators" watching to see how you react.
Now I will be the first to admit, I don't always win with humility. I've never been an athlete, but I'm a mean spades player and die-hard Patriots fan. So when my team wins a game against a crucial opponent, I'm probably on Twitter talking about how my team is number one. And if I beat my brother in a good game of spades, I'm definitely taunting him afterwards. But it's not the best behavior. It's always better to stay humble, be appreciative about the win, but remember, that...
2. What goes up, must come down.
It's easy to become puffed up with pride after having the regular season success that the Panthers had. But Cam clearly forgot that what goes up, must come down. The bigger you brag and the more you showboat, the harder it will be when you fall. You win very little fans bragging all the time. The more "in your face" you are about a win, the more people begin to dislike you and they are just waiting for you to fall. And falling is inevitable. It will happen, but it's much better for there be a group of supporters around you to encourage you and build you up, rather than a group of people who are there to celebrate your downfall.
3. Win with respect, lose with respect.
Let's be honest. NO ONE likes to lose. It's not a good feeling, and what hurts even more is when your opponent who has just handed you the lost won't let you forget it. Losing already puts you in a low emotional state, so taunts can easily make tempers flare, start throwing threats around, and get fists flying. So when you win, be graceful about it and show respect to the losing team.
And when you lose, acknowledge the winner. There's no need for a big speech, but a simple handshake or congratulations is appropriate. It's not easy to thank someone who has performed better than you and has received the praise and honor that you were going after, but you always gain more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. Everyone always remembers the sore loser and no one will want to work with you again if you behave badly.
4. You cannot win alone.
By the fourth quarter, I honestly felt bad for Cam. He wasn't receiving the support he needed from his offensive line at all. They allowed him to be sacked seven times, and then he had two forced fumbles. This goes to show that no matter how great a QB Cam is, he couldn't win the game alone. A team is always needed. Whether it be that friend that babysits for you while you're at an important meeting or the friend that supports and encourages you to keep going, you have teammates that help you win each day and reach your goals. Acknowledge them.
5. At the end of the day, we're all human and emotions are real.
Watching Cam sit with the media after the game was painful. That was raw emotion caught on tape. This man had just been declared the league's MVP the night before; an emotional high. And then was dealt a major emotional blow by losing the biggest game of his life. Why shouldn't he be angry, hurt and upset? Should he have held those emotions in? Then people might have accused him of being fake or phony. At the end of the day, we're all human. We handle disappointment differently. As the leader of the team, I admit, he could have handled things, but I won't hold it against him as long as he can take this loss as a lesson. It's okay to show emotion, but don't let it get the best of you.
6. There will be haters on the road to success.
Dab on 'em. Joking! Focus on your journey and not the obstacles and roadblocks that appear on your journey. There will always be someone jealous or just hating because you have been able to accomplish something they can't. Or you are going after your dreams and they are afraid to. Don't get caught up in the negative comments because negative energy can be likened to a contact high: stay in the environment too long and you get caught up in. That doesn't mean you can't respond, but don't stoop to their level and battle it out, insult-for-insult. Respond, be kind and keep it moving. Hit them with, "thanks for your opinion and I hope you keep watching me work."
Failures in life, no matter how big, shouldn't be debilitating. There will always be another time, a next opportunity and another chance. Take the loss as a lesson learned. Step back and evaluate the situation. Take time to understand what mistakes were made and how you can improve in the future.
One of my favorite lines in a song comes from Joe Budden's song, "Playing Our Part", "I control my emotions, yours control you." Cam let his emotions get the best of him last night. He's not the first person to do it and won't be the last. But if we learn anything from this, it would be to show emotion, but don't let the emotions control you.