After their Super Bowl appearance, most people expected the Carolina Panthers to come out strong last year and make another historic run for the Lombardi Trophy. However, that is far from what happened. The team ended up with a 6-10 record. It’s safe to say the 2016 season was a disappointing year for the Panthers.
There are many ways the team can come back and make 2017 another strong year. For example, they can get Cam Newton back on track. While he had an off year, I think he can bounce back and play at the MVP level again. Then there’s cultivating new talent, as the Panthers are already doing by drafting Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. Sometimes when young, exciting players come into the locker room, it lights a fire under the rest of the team.
But the Panthers have a major challenge they didn’t have last year—they’ve lost their momentum.
Momentum is important, both in sports and business. Momentum means you believe you will win, you expect to win, and that’s great for motivation. Everyone else expects you to win, too, so you get all kinds of encouragement and support. There was a time when some people in Charlotte were ashamed to rock a Panthers shirt, but not in 2015. You saw Panthers apparel pop up everywhere. The whole city felt electric. In business, momentum means that clients expect you to do a great job, and that translates directly into more sales and more investment. More income means you can grow and develop your company and make those expectations pan out.
But the Panthers don’t have momentum, now. Everyone’s thinking about their poor season last year, not the great season the year before. To succeed now, they’ll have to violate expectations. They’ll have to change direction. They can do it, they’ve done it before, but it will be harder.
In business and in sports, there are hot streaks, when everything seems to be going your way, but there are cold streaks, too. Sometimes the loss of momentum happens because you’re doing something wrong, something you need to identify and fix, but sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a reason. You just had a bad week, or maybe a bad day. You can—and must—get back up and get back to work.
It will be hard. It will feel harder than you think it should. But know the problem is only that you lost momentum. If you put the effort in, you can get going again, and you’ll rebuild the momentum you need to help you win.
That’s what the Panthers have to do now, rebuild momentum. It will be interesting to see how they do it, how they bounce back on their way to another Super Bowl appearance.