Words & Sports

Going to the Movies for Motivation: Any Given Sunday

This is the first of a series of posts each discussing a different iconic scene in a popular sports movie. We all know these scenes, but you might be surprised by how much they can tell you about running your business. Any Given Sunday | Al Pacino Speech

The final speech from the movie “Any Given Sunday” is considered by many to be the greatest sports movie speech ever.

In this iconic speech, Al Pacino’s character explains how life, like football, is a game of inches. How everything comes down to small choices, small opportunities, and small victories or losses. You add up all those inches, he says, and the result is the difference between winning and losing.

It’s the people who fight for every inch who win.

Al Pacino’s character is trying to motivate his players to come together and fight for those inches. Motivation isn’t everything—you need skill and opportunity too if you’re going to succeed—but if you’re not motivated, you’re not going to fight. That’s true on the football field, it’s true in life, and it’s true in business. Motivation is not an aspect of what you do; it’s the driving force behind everything you do.

No one can make you fight for your successes, not your coach, your boss, your mentor, your friend, your partner, or your family. All these people can be a factor; you might work hard because you want to give your child a better future, for example. But your kid is not going to get out there and make you fight for those inches. Only you can fire yourself up.

How are you going to do that? You’re not going to have the same level of motivation every day, but you need to be able to take advantage of the good days and you need to develop ways to pick yourself back up when your motivation lags. And that goes for your team, too, including any outsourced partners or freelancers, everyone you work with—you have to find ways to motivate each other to fight for those inches together. The team that does that wins.

The bottom line is that opportunity is out there. The steps you take to make the most of that opportunity are the inches. Either you scratch and claw to reach your goal or you find an excuse as to why you couldn’t do it.

As Al Pacino’s character in the movie asks at the end of that speech, “what are you going to do?”

Podcast episode where we reference the movie Any Given Sunday.