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THE INC. LIFE

What You Can Learn From the Vikings Miracle Win (Hint: It Was No Miracle)

The Minnesota Vikings practiced a game-winning play every single day before the miracle happened. What can you learn from that? You can make everyone think it’s a miracle, but success takes perseverance.

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BY John Brandon - 16 Jan 2018

What You Can Learn From the Vikings Miracle Win (Hint: It Was No Miracle)

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

A scrappy team of underdogs and misfits. A second-rate, third-string quarterback. An overlooked football franchise located somewhere close to Canada.

All of those things are true about the Minnesota Vikings, my home team. Yet, in a playoff game yesterday, they showed what winning really means. For all of us.

It's hard to explain the feeling of watching the quarterback, Case Keenum, launch a pigskin prayer with the final seconds ticking off the clock, and then watching Stefon Diggs jump skyward, clutch the ball in his hands, and race to the end-zone as the clock counted down to zero. If you haven't seen the rather miraculous play, which was all over the news, you can watch the final throw here, although there's more to this story.

As a lifelong Vikings fan, I've lived through many ups and downs. I remember the Super Bowl losses (all four of them), the playoffs hopes, the missed field goal attempts with seconds left on the clock. This is not a team that wins by gliding home to victory on the wings of exceptionally talented players. When they matched up with the New Orleans Saints this past weekend, it was Drew Brees, a household name who stars in TV commercials, against a total unknown--Case Keenum is not even the starter.

As a fan, I've pinned my hopes on the team and found they constantly let me down, one year after the next. But there's something different going on this year. Call it blind luck if you want, although the Vikings dominated the entire first half and seemed to have the game in hand until the Saints picked up a late-in-the-fourth-quarter field goal.

The truth is not quite so miraculous.

First off, Stefon Diggs is a world-class wide receiver. It was not a lucky catch. It was more like being in the perfect position. More importantly, according to Coach Mike Zimmer after the game, that Vikings had practiced that play every single day leading up to the playoff game on Sunday. Maybe it wasn't raw talent, but it was raw skill.

What's the lesson for those of us who follow sports, have some lofty ambitions for a startup, or just want to make it through the week at our current job?

Here you go:

Luck has nothing to do with it. Miracles do exist and can happen. Yet, when they don't happen, what works is often practice and skill, perseverance, and sheer willpower.

The Vikings knew they were up against a tough opponent. Drew Brees is a veteran player who helped his team win the Super Bowl back in 2010. Keenum launched a few wobbly passes during the game, and he doesn't have the poise or confidence of Brees.

Yet, the Vikings do have spunk.

This entire season, they have played like they have a fire up their shorts. They are trying harder than everyone else. And that's really the lesson for all of us. If you run a company, know that it takes hard work and practice to make it all work out. Make them think it's a miracle if you want, but we all know the truth. It's perseverance. It's never taking no for an answer. It's calling 50 people one day to make a sale and 100 the next.

The Vikings are my favorite team, and that one play was astounding. I watched it live and started yelling and screaming like I had face-paint and a Vikings helmet on. What made me cheer the most? Why did I lose it in the end? Not because of the miracle. It was because a bunch of spunky players had risen to the challenge and played all the way to the end.

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