When you want to make a point, find the facts that support your purpose. They're there; you've just got to dig. In the 2003 season, our team was 6-10. People look at losses; they say, 'You lost this many games; bad football team.' It certainly wasn't what we wanted to do. But just looking at that stat did nothing to help my guys get back on track. So I searched a little, and I found out that our stats weren't that far off from what they had been the year before when we won the division. Seven of our losses were by 7 points or less. Suddenly we didn't look so awful. The guys said, 'Hey, we weren't that bad. This thing is fixable.'
Going into the Monday night game that season against the Tennessee Titans, they were 9-2 and we were 4-7. I said, okay, they've won 9 games. But only 3 of those wins came against a winning team. Heck, we beat 3 of the teams they beat. They've got 9 wins; we beat 3 of them. Guess what? They're not that good. The perception says they're solid, but in reality, here's what they are.
And then I broke them down into quarters and said, 'Watch how they play. Look how they play in each quarter. They score points in the first and second quarters, but teams are outscoring them in the third and fourth. What that means is that if they get up, they put you in a game you don't want to play. They can rush the passer, blitz you, confuse you, mess up everything you're trying to do. What we have to do is stay close. Don't make it a two-score game. If you can stay within three points, you got it. Stats show that after halftime, they don't want to play the same game. And they're not good at playing the game we're getting ready to play.' The game came, and they got a touchdown right away. I said, 'Don't worry, it's one score. Don't get down by two now.' We got in at halftime up 10-7. I said, 'We're up, guys; they don't want to play that game.'
It's the same process when you go over a household budget with your wife. You write down the numbers, how much you pay for groceries, utilities, mortgage, car, gas, insurance, whatever it is, and then you find a way to crunch where you can or expand where you have to. It might not seem that you're spending a lot in one area, groceries, for example (you don't have steak and lobster every night), but the numbers don't lie. You're spending way too much, so you look at the numbers and make a plan to eat more beans and rice, or whatever it is that can lower that expenditure. In business, it may not seem like you're spending much on marketing, but once again, you look at the numbers and the numbers don't lie, so you take them and you adjust. It's a simple theory that nobody can dispute.
I like to use facts because you can't argue with facts. Perception may say one thing, but the numbers might say something else.