Unleashing Your Power of Analogy

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you conquer your fear in a challenging situation. Reading time: 3:56

        You’re facing a high-pressure situation. Maybe it’s a critical sale. Or a crucial contract negotiation.

Jim O'Brien

Jim O’Brien kicks Super Bowl winning field goal in 1971

        You either win right now or you lose big time. Maybe you lose your big bonus or your big office or even your big job. Your leadership is on the line.

        What do you do when your competitors have a commanding advantage in experience and proven expertise?

       What do you do to counter their intimidating taunts? What do you do to calm your frayed nerves?

      Unleash your Power of Analogy.

      That’s what Baltimore Colt rookie field goal kicker Jim O’Brien did to win Super Bowl V against a seemingly insurmountable pro football Dallas Cowboys defense that had already:

1. Forced seven turnovers in the game,
2. Scored both of their touchdowns in the game and
3. Blocked O’Brien’s point-after-touchdown attempt earlier in the game.

     Suffice to say O’Brien was having a bad day at the office on this Super Sunday yet he methodically kicked a perfect 32-yard field goal that gave the Baltimore Colts a come-from-behind 16-13 Super Bowl V victory over the Dallas Cowboys with five seconds remaining in the game.

Jim O'Brien

Jim O’Brien

      How did O’Brien cope with all that pressure, especially against a stalwart defense that had allowed only one touchdown in the last six games?

       How did O’Brien conquer his self-doubt, especially against a team that had won more games than any other team in the last five years?

        Self-doubt seemed to saddle O’Brien throughout the season. He came into the game as less than a stellar kicker. O’Brien missed as many field goals as he made all season.

        He was average at best and now on this Sunday in Super Bowl. Now his self-doubt had to wrestle with brand new challenge beyond the Dallas defense.

        O’Brien had never kicked field goals on Astro-Turf before setting foot on the Orange Bowl field in Miami to play in the Super Bowl on that January Sunday in 1971.

      Imagine making a presentation for the first time in a foreign land? The jitters come with the new unfamiliar territory.

      So how did  O’Brien get over his jitters to perform so well after playing so badly in front of a sold out stadium and 64 million television viewers around the world?

    Jim O’Brien unleashed his Power of Analogy to overcome an intense challenge in a pressure situation.

     O’Brien compared the taunting of the Dallas Cowboys to the playful razing of his own teammates in practice who often chided him for wearing his hair long in an era when the crew cut was still in vogue.

      “The Dallas linemen were yelling at me, trying to distract me,” O’Brien recalled. “Then for a second, I remembered how (our defensive tackle) Billy Ray Smith would holler at me during practice. I said to myself `This is only Billy Ray yelling.”

      O’Brien used the Power of Analogy to transform his vulnerable attention span into a more viable connection plan, connecting his pressure-packed performance to a more familiar, less-tense personal experience. So can you as a leader.

     With an analogy.

Today’s ImproveMINT

Use analogy in pressure situations to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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