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How to Win

The Simplest Detail

Anyone who thinks that success is complicated should look at the Grey Cup final — the championship of the Canadian Football League.

Montreal won because Saskatchewan received a penalty for having 13 men on the field. Damon Duval missed a field goal that would have won the game, but got a second chance because of the penalty. Let that sink in for a moment: After weeks of training camp, a long season, and a bruising game, Saskatchewan lost a title because it could not put the right number of players on the field.

“It was a lack of communication … but it should have been recognized,” coach Ken Miller said about the critical penalty. “The disappointment of this loss is going to affect us as long as we’re on this planet. Total 100 percent disappointment.”

Saskatchewan’s pain can become your wisdom. No detail is too small. And never let yourself think that success is something magical or complicated. It’s not. As North Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance is constantly preaching, it’s about doing things right every time.

Remember Thomas Keller, the world-class chef who said that no one step in cooking is particularly difficult?

All Saskatchewan had to do was count the number of players on the field. That doesn’t sound particularly difficult. But it didn’t get done. And the pain will linger a lifetime.

The StarPhoenix newspaper reported it this way:

“It’s not a moment thing; it’s a lifetime thing,” said Saskatchewan special-teams coach Kavis Reed, insisting that he, and not the unnamed extra player, should take the blame. “This is something I’ve got to live with for the rest of my life, and it’s something we have to live with for the rest of our lives. A mistake was made that essentially cost us the Grey Cup championship. I’ve got to shoulder that, I’ve got to live with that, I’ve got to replay that for the rest of my life.”

Never let that happen to you. There are no little things.


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