Have you ever seen the documentary called "What The Bleep Do We Know?" It was based in the theories of quantum physics, neurology, molecular biology, and mysticism. There's this one part where they freeze a glass of tap water and put it under a high-powered microscope and take a picture of its crystaline structure. Next, they let a person having very bad thoughts hold the glass then take a picture under the microscope -- its crystaline structure completely changes and paints a very chaotic picture. Then they have a priest bless the water, turning it into Holy Water, and put it under the microscope where the picture it makes looks like the most beautiful structure of pristine crystals you have ever seen.
One of the major points of the film is that human thought has a measurable mass that can actively change physical matter and physical outcome. Literally, if enough people believe something strongly, they can influence the outcome of events.
In the realm of football, observe the phenomena of the very confident team. Observe week 7 of the 2009 season when the Saints played the Dolphins and quickly found themselves in a 21 point hole. Observe how their belief that they were a special team destined for greatness affected the Miami players right before halftime when Drew snuck it in for a touchdown. The Miami players knew something irreversible had just happend; you could see it in the expressions they wore on their faces and in their body language.
Observe how that win validated the belief and fueled the confidence to pull out many more close games, leading to the ultimate confidence/belief boost of dismantling the Patriots (largely regarded as the measuring stick), with a depleted secondary and going up against a hot Moss/ Welker/ Brady connection. Doing it in such fashion that Bill Belichick said "the hell with it," taking his top starters out and conceding a loss with over 5:30 left in the game. That season culminated with a Superbowl victory.
Leading up to that week, most of the nation believed the Saints would win and they were rooting for them. For a brief period, they were America's Team.
That belief in self -- that confidence (or lack of), becomes a self fufilling prophesy. When I was in high school, I played football for two different teams. The first had a few All-State blue chip prospects and we went into each season "knowing" (or having a strong belief) that we were going to do well. Practices were spirited and uptempo. We went into every game believing we were going to win -- it was just a matter of how. For the most part, when faced with adversity, we found a way to overcome it. An observer might say "we created or own luck" or "the football gods were smiling down on them".
I changed schools and the team I became part of my senior year was completely opposite. There were no skill players thought of as college recruits. Practice lacked the same electricity and intensity. The lack of belief and confidence "in the air" was just as palpable as the opposite extreme at the other school for whom I played. It seemed like a rain cloud hovered over us every day. We went into games hoping we would win, but having that feeling in our guts that we would probably lose. We'd find ways to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory. When adversity came, everyone had that feeling of "here we go again." We'd start thinking of all the things that could go wrong, playing out the scenarios of "if we don't make this first down" or "if we give up this score." An observer might say "the ball just didn't bounce their way" or "they just can't catch a break."
Some teams have great players whose belief in self helps raise the belief in others. They exude confidence and it permeates throughout the rest of the team. The Colts believe if they are down one score with the ball and a few minutes left, Peyton Manning will lead them to a win. The Broncos held that belief with Elway. The Patriots believe it with Brady.
Other teams have great coaches who seem to lead a rag tag bunch to victory over Goliath every week. As everyone takes notice at a great turnaround a team has with its new coach, they begin asking "What's so different; how is this team winning with the same players it lost with last year?" Almost always, the answer you hear from those players is "we all bought in to the coach's vision."
The Saints have Drew Brees and Sean Payton. As long as they have those two, I have to say I believe in this team.
At our core, we have animalistic instincts ingrained in our being. Left alone, we can expect to react just as animals in the wild. But a lifetime of training curbs that reaction. Have you ever come across someone, who faced with the hypothetical of getting into a physical altercation, says, "If that jubroni hits me I'm gonna do this and that to him." These people are disillusioned.
Here's what happens: If I walk up to you and hit you in the mouth without warning or prevocation, your going to do what's natural to you -- what you've trained for all of your life. If all your life you've practiced restraint and maturity, you are going to be shocked by the blow, maybe dazed, and you won't be able to react in the same way as if you knew it was coming. More than likely you'll seek refuge and try to collect yourself and decide how to react.
You see, thats the key word: react. That reaction is your instinct after living life a certain way for so long. That reaction is an extension of who you are at your core. It's a very far thing from who you think you are and who you want to be. The only way to alter these natural reactions is through repetetive conditioning of the mind and body -- going through the motions physically and mentally until your natural reaction is habitually ingrained, replacing instinct.
Have you ever heard the story of Drew Brees "playing a game" during the bye week? You know, the one where Sean Payton notices Drew going through all the motions mentally and physically, alone on a practice field while everyone else is enjoying their week off? Sean asks Drew what he's doing and after Drew explains, Sean simply asks, "Are we winning?"
It must be noted that intestinal fortitude isn't measured by how well things are going. The man reveals himself during times of adversity. His belief in self is evident when the unexpected occurs, manifesting itself in how he reacts. Everyone can put on a facade, but in those moments when light shines on darkness and man is forced to react out of instinct, without thought, without planning, but literally on the spot -- this is when the true measure of a man (or team) is shown.
Most of us go through life with self imposed limitations. It takes a leader (or extreme circumstance) to push you past those limits through example, through motivation and through experience. I remember once in the Marines we ran 15 miles. If you had told me we were about to run 15 miles, I would have never finished. However, after we got done running 15 miles and were told how far it actually was, I had the confidence that I could do it again. I had belief in myself I never had before. It always amazed me when a limit I placed on myself was surpassed and I didn't drop dead.
The point is that we all believe we know what we can and can't do. We have been conditioned through experience and our environment to place limits on what is possible. But what happens when someone close to us, or some unique set of circumstances pushes us past our "limit?" We find out it wasn't a limit after all. If this happens enough, we discover that many things are limitless. Or said another way - anything is possible when you believe in yourself.
Want to know the point of all this? Where I'm trying to lead you, the reader? Okay. Listen very closely. As Saints fans, we have been blessed with a few great leaders filled with belief and confidence in Drew Brees and Sean Payton. But they can't do it all on their own.
I began this piece talking about the power of thought and belief having a measurable impact as proved with quantum physics, Noetic Science and that glass of water. If you still find yourself with doubts over the power of your thoughts and your beliefs, look no further than the Saints Superbowl victory. We believed. The city and Gulf Coast region had a connection to that team that was undeniable and evident to all. Most of America got behind us and rooted for the Saints.
On that note, I pose the following question: Will you believe this season? Will you go into each game knowing and fully expecting the Saints to win? Every week, will you cite the reasons why the Saints will be victorious, despite what expert naysayers will throw out, or despite the "trap game" conditioning you've had in the past? When a bad play happens, will you envision plays like "The Turkey Day Takeaway" (Malcom Jenkin's strip in Dallas) or "The Meachem Miracle" (Meachem's strip against Washington the previous year)? Will you believe that the Saints will find a way to turn a negative into a positive and root for it with all your being?
The time starts now. This is when teams normally begin putting themselves through the motions. Drew has already arranged workouts to prepare the team. Will you prepare as well? Will you condition your mind to think of the best outcome? Will you foster the belief that we will win the Superbowl this year? When the Saints have Who Dat Nation backing them up with the power of belief, they have a competitive advantage unmatched by any other team.