Had you been there, you’d know.
The unifying euphoria, the fleeting unification of an entire city that, for at least a few hours, let go of its differences and shared the excitement of seeing its beloved Seahawks stomp their way to their first-ever Lombardi trophy, breaking a somber streak in the process.
I’ll be frank.
This was but one of a handful of times that I’ve watched the Super Bowl. Personally, I am not attracted to the event unless there’s some allegiance. I have no doubt that the teams playing are the best in their conferences and that the odds of being an exciting match are great, but that’s not enough lure for me. Unless I’m directly involved in one form or another—as I have in the past—the desire is non-existent.
This time there was no reason to miss it. The event promised to be historic and the entire city buzzed with the energy of certainty. It was as if we already knew the outcome, and we were only waiting for the rest of the world to realize what we knew.
When the game concluded and the festivities spilled out to the streets, I felt grateful and wiser for having two of the major lessons of life reinforced in me. I would like to share them with you.
The first one materialized the very moment Peyton Manning missed the opening snap.
My Reality is not Shaped by Your Opinions
It was frustrating to hear sports commentators in the preceding days and during the match itself. They spoke with infatuation and blind reverie, speculating as to how the number one offense in the league—led by the indomitable Payton Manning—was going to tear Seattle apart and the best the Emerald City could hope for was a close match.
It seemed that the young Seahawks could not earn the respect they deserved, even after proving themselves in the playoffs. It did not matter. They were too young, too inexperienced, and were not championship material.
Thus I watched the stakes pile against the Seahawks. Out of every ten predictions, at least seven favored Denver. Heck, the lack of faith on the team started a couple of years ago. In an April 29, 2012 article published on The Bleacher Report, sports writer Donald Wood chastised head coach Pete Carroll for making such poor choices as Bruce Irving and Russell Wilson during the 2012 draft. He went as far as giving the Seahawks a failing grade and predicting further frustration.
The comments prior to the game were no better.
Then the big show itself arrived. To the astonishment of enamored commentators, their Golden Calf was stripped of all its adornments and exposed as a mere, unprepared mortal.
To quote Troy Aikman “Nobody could have predicted this.”
Of course not. Nobody, except the Seahawks and perhaps all of Seattle. Even in the face of their crumbling idol, many broken-hearted commentators made their infatuation more evident. Questions like, “How can Denver make a comeback?” or “How can Peyton Manning score touchdowns?” flowed from their stunned mouths. It would’ve been more impartial if some had asked “How can Seattle keep the momentum?” but I never heard the question uttered. Maybe it was too painful but I suspect asking it would’ve been redundant.
At that point it wasn’t even necessary. The Seahawks had revealed one of the most important lessons I learned early in my career, one that’s brought up with passion by speaker Les Brown, and it’s as powerful and certain now as it was then.
That somebody’s opinion does not have to become one’s reality.
It takes strength to overcome this when we face it. Many times it’s our loved who tell us—perhaps with the best of intentions—that our dreams are too ambitious, that we are aiming too high, that she should settle for less and that we are not meant to be who we want to become.
But we know well what ensues if we let those hurtful words get to our heads. We become bitter as we struggle with what we want to accomplish and the voices of doubt haunt us. “Maybe this was a really bad idea,” we think as we face the tribulations of opening our business, producing a play, writing a book, patenting our invention, or whatever means we use to accomplish our dreams.
Our inner voice struggles to be heard, to let us know that we have keep pushing forward and march on. But we put too much weight on the opinions of others, even the unsolicited ones, the ones that tell us we should stay content in the little circle and not aim too high lest we fall catastrophically. We let those opinions shape our reality, and for that we hate ourselves.
But when we set our minds right, we realize such opinions are a reflection of the insecurities or ignorance of those who provide them, and instead of being detrimental, they fuel us to continue the good fight. We know that no amount of talking will persuade doubters to see the light we see, that it’s only through our unquestionable results that we’ll get their attention and show them that we are too determined to let their drivel change to course of our lives.
And that’s the first lesson Super Bowl LVIII brought to our lives to enrich them, courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks. It’s a clean and transparent lesson, one we can all readily appreciate.
But there was also another important lesson, not so apparent but one that should not be neglected. And that brings us to a happily ignored subject.