By Michael Berland
Published February 6, 2010
Being an established winner is an advantage over being a hungry upstart. And the main reason is that you have the ‘muscle memory’ of success. That can be a huge asset.
‘Muscle memory’ typically refers to how we train our brains for successful physical endeavors through repetition of activity — it’s what athletes do day in and day out in training.
On the field, by way of example, when Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl against my beloved Chicago Bears three years ago in the exact same arena in Miami, he learned how to handle the pressure of the expectations and what was at stake.
So in this year’s game, Peyton Manning certainly has nothing to prove personally. So he can relax into the game and focus on it.
(But of course muscle memory transcends sports. I think there is a muscle memory of success in any field. When you’ve already succeeded, you already know what to expect. There is less of a fear factor. And you already know how to get the best out of your people. )
Muscle memory aside, an established winner can also mean you have something to live up to: a reputation to protect. That can be an added pressure and not a good thing.
Hungry upstarts, on the other hand, like Saints quarterback Drew Brees, have little to lose. Having little to lose can lead to an openness towards risk, to creativity and flexibility in decision-making. There is also something to be said for the drive and ambition and sometimes the humility of a hungry upstart.
Either way this Super Bowl going to be a great game. Now if the Bears can just start reading On Success!