113 million Americans watched the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38 to 35 in thrilling fashion last Sunday in Super Bowl LVII. There were many memorable moments from the long passes to the longest punt return in Super Bowl history. Each play took a tremendous amount of teamwork by the eleven players on the field. But on this day, there was only one play that was the epitome of self-sacrifice.
As time was running out, Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon had a wide-open lane to the end zone, but rather than leaping into the end zone and celebrating his first Super Bowl touchdown, McKinnon chose to voluntarily give himself up at the two-yard line by going into “Church Mode.” What might have been a moment of personal glory became a poignant moment of self-sacrifice. After the game, McKinnon said to reporters that “To this point, I have never really (been about) personal achievements. My main goal when I came into the league was to win a Super Bowl. I’m here in year nine and I’ve got a Super Bowl championship on my name.”
A key trait of high-performing teams is for individual team members to sacrifice for the good of the whole. To put the team’s collective ambitions and aspirations ahead of an individual’s own personal goals. In a business context this could mean undertaking a project or allocating precious resources to most impactful area, not necessarily the project that is in your area of responsibility.
In McKinnon’s case, he would not even have been in the position to make the “sacrifice” but for the offensive line who cleared his way. I often watch the celebration that takes place after a touchdown. Those who clear the way celebrate as much as the individual who scores the touchdown. Each team member recognizes that they could not have been successful without the entire team doing their respective job. It is a reminder that no one ever achieves great things alone. It takes collaboration and the willingness of one to self-sacrifice for the good of the whole to accomplish great things.