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The 8 Words Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Believes In Most. Here’s Why They’re Actually Incomplete

It’s as if these famous 8 words encapsulate everything. They don’t.

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BY Chris Matyszczyk - 03 Feb 2019

coach bill belichick 8 words

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


Humans are, too often, naive.

We're a primitive species, after all.

So we think that grabbing on to a few (supposedly) wise words will propel us to our dreams of wealth and success.

It's a relief to know that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick succumbs to this human frailty.

He seems rather fond of The Art of War, a book wielded by so many to so little effect.

There surely aren't as many people who are successful as have read it.

Belichick is especially enamored of one sentence from the Sun Tzu's sunny tome.

It is, he told CNBC, the only sign he hangs in the Patriots' locker room. It reads:

Every battle is won before it is fought.

This is, of course, a homage to preparation, something for which Belichick is legendary.

Those who have worked him have been astonished at his attention to detail and his knowledge of seemingly every aspect pertaining to his players and the opposing team's before the game starts.

Still, preparation -- though wonderful -- isn't enough.

Winning, especially in sports, requires an ability to execute according to your preparation.

It requires the ability to react to changing and unpredicted circumstances with barely a rational thought.

How many people did you know in high school and college who prepared for exams more rigorously than anyone, yet disappointed when confronted with the actual test?

There is such a thing as a big-game player.

There are those who stutter through a regular season, only to bloom when the chips are of an appropriately large size.

Somehow, when the real competition begins, they're more alert, stronger and more effective.

Naturally, I wouldn't dream of suggesting that some of these people enjoy a better class of drugs at that time of year.

It's still worth remembering, as you merrily swallow bad food during the Super Bowl, that you can get paralyzed by preparation, too.

You can tell yourself that you know how the opposition plays, that you're sure what it's going to do. You've done your homework, after all.

When the opposition does something different, you may not know how to react.

Please, then, let me amend Sun Tzu's wise words:

Every battle isn't quite won before it is fought. You see, some people are really good at the fighting part and they end up winning.

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