Super Bowl Lesson #3 - Find A Moral Force

Von Clausewitz, the great Prussian military strategist, introduced us to the concept of "moral force." He believed that armies that wanted to win with great conviction enjoyed a tangible advantage over less-motivated adversaries.

This "moral force" is the fuel that drives the success of the "ethonomic" companies we have covered here. They are pursuing a bigger goal, one that appeals to a larger class of stakeholders: to the community, the country, the world. Everyone, as a result, is cheering for them, including their customers, suppliers, and investors. When you have everyone on your side, it becomes easier to win.

In last Sunday’s Super Bowl game, the New Orleans Saints were playing for more than their team. They were playing for the city of New Orleans, which just four and a half years ago faced near devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The city the U.S. government failed to lift up out of the floods has been lifting itself up. And their journey was exemplified by the Saints, a football team that since its founding in 1967 has never made it into the Super Bowl.

As the game day approached we heard Saints players using words like "destiny" and "true calling." They were there to do more than win a football game. They were there to show their city, state, and "maybe even a country," as the Staints' quarterback Drew Brees said, that "New Orleans is back."

As I bump into friends on the streets of New York, our conversations naturally land on the Super Bowl. When they ask who I cheered for, I tell them the Saints, and then I tell them my reason: my wife, raised in New Orleans, whose family survived Katrina, has desired this for her whole life. And then I get a pause, followed by "That's great, man. No one deserves it more than them."

Fill your sails with the power of "moral force." Find a purpose that will turn everyone into a fan.

1.    What is your company’s purpose?

2.    How can you exist for something bigger, something that everybody wants to succeed?

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  • Vernon Martin

    It’s like across a desert and searching for the oasis, when we search for a meaningful message that will take us out of the social shock of our economic paralysis. Just like a company, we as a nation, must determine or at least remember our purpose. Companies are wounded and limping and the employees are wondering whether to grab the ores and help paddle the way or jump ship and find stable ground. When we can unite for a purpose, paddling becomes the chosen way, and we row together in that direction that we all can agree. Otherwise, we may grasp a paddle, but only as a weapon to keep everyone else away as we try to secure our spot; a secure cabin on the Titanic. The lesson of the Saints, or even of New Orleans, is never give up! One player says it best:
    Vernon Martin,

  • Dan Rockwell


    I've been following your blogs and enjoy them. I wonder if moral force needs an enemy? Moral force emerges out of something to prove.

    Vision rooted in moral force enables us to reach beyond our limits, rise above our failures, and crush our enemies.

    Once a "moral imperative" captures us... and that is what happens, we become "evangelist" calling people to join the team that will defeat a giant foe.

    Moral imperatives enable us to expand the dream rather than narrowing the team.

    Don't narrow the dream, expand the team. http://leadershipfreak.wordpre...


    Leadership Freak
    Dan Rockwell

  • Beryl Wing

    Fabulous. A moral force that goes beyond motivating those in your company to succeed. A moral force that creates stakeholders out of those in your company's world and motivates them to root for your success because of the moral rightness of the endeavor. How to create a vision that big and craft it in a way that arouses such passion. Food for thought.