The Denver Broncos are now 5-5 and have a chance to lead their division this week. In the NFL, a common assumption is that you can only win with a pocket passing quarterback. Coach John Fox made a decision that challenged the attitudes, cognitive bias, and current assumptions of what it takes to win in the NFL. Tim Tebow has been criticized for his lack of throwing ability, his technique, his propensity to run, and other elements. Yet with Tebow at quarterback and the defense improving every game, the Bronco’s win-loss record is 4 and 1. The assumption that a quarterback has to pass and should not run is being refuted by the data. This will continue until a worst-case scenario – Tebow gets hurt – then another cognitive bias will happen, which is a peak-end bias. This cognitive distortion occurs when something is going along at a certain intensity, pace, or level of satisfaction or performance and then either something really good or really bad happens. The entire memory sequence now changes and decisions are based on the one-time event. In this case, no quarterback should be running the ball. This, of course, ignores the current data of how many passing quarterbacks have been injured this season already.

What Coach Fox has done is adapt his system to fit Tebow’s strengths rather than focusing on rectifying his limitations. Tebow, for his part, appears to have maintained his focus on “getting the job done” – whatever that takes. The rest of the cognitive changes appear to be shared by the majority of teammates who like winning over losing. (Who doesn’t?)

Reflect on your organizations, your individual performance, and make note of any hardening of the attitudes. They are fair game for intervention.

Have a day filled with success and perseverance,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist