During the American League Championship Series (ALCS) in 2004 the Boston Red Sox were three games to zero. After losing the third game 19-8 at Fenway Park, it looked like the Red Sox would lose to the Yankees again, wiping out their hopes of going to the World Series and winning their first championship since 1918 to do.

After the Yankees won the first three games, almost everyone in New York, Boston, and every other city around the world assumed the series was over. Why? Because no team in Major League Baseball history had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a run of seven games.

The teams were to play the next two games in Boston. The Sox won Game 4 (6-4 in 12 innings) and Game 5 (5-4 in 14 innings), with star player David Ortiz carrying the team on his back to force Game 6 in New York. Boston would go on to win Game 6 (4-2) behind the arm of starting pitcher Curt Schilling in what is known today as the & # 39; bloody sock game & # 39 ;. (A story for another time). During the post-game press conference, Schilling wore a t-shirt that read, "Why Not Us?"

After losing to the Yankees in seven games in 2003, the Red Sox had had an excellent season and refused to go down without a fight. Despite the odds, they continued to believe. The fact that no team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the past didn't mean it wasn't possible. They began to see it as something that 'still' had not happened. So "Why not us?" became their mantra.

Before Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, the team assembled early to watch the feature film Miracle . The film traced the story of the Olympic men's gold medal victory in 1980, including a 4-3 semi-final victory over the Soviet Union – upsetting many as one of the greatest in the world. sports history. It was just a matter of time before a team would come along and beat the best hockey team in the world. In so many words, United States head coach Herb Brooks said to his team, "Why not us?" and "Why Not Tonight?"

A few hours later, the Red Sox would take the field, only to roll over the Yankees 10-3 to win the ALCS and win the World Series, just as the USA Hockey Team advanced to the final game at Beat Finland and win the gold medal.

The difference between our "why" and our "why not?"

Simon Sinek rather famously taught leaders about the importance of identifying our "why". In recent years, the Millennials have helped us inject a healthy dose of what it means to be purposeful in our work (and our lives) and how much it can matter to what energizes teams in the workplace. I once worked with a company where the CEO's goal was to grow from a half billion dollar company to a billion dollar company. The problem was that hitting a number didn't exactly get the employees excited. Getting them behind the efforts to grow the business should be a test of their pride in the product they produce and the difference it makes in people's lives. If expanding the organization could expand their reach and put their product in the hands of more people around the world, they were all there. The employees found their why and today the CEO is on the way to achieve his goal and realize their shared goal.

Your & # 39; why & # 39; gives a team its target . Your "why not?" inspires the belief that the team can fulfill its purpose. that goal is possible, it boils down to dedication – a daily commitment to learning, sharing, applying and achieving – to improve step by step every day.

We see teams competing for championships and gold medals, but we see the daily sacrifice that comes with earning the right to do so. It takes more work than most of us can imagine. This level of effort may explain that when a team does what it takes to enable itself to compete for a world title, despite the odds (3-0 behind or the best hockey team in the world), there is a certain reluctance to compete. to give. In fact, it feeds their collective beliefs.

For the top organizations in sports and business, winning is not the goal; it is the reward. The goal is to create a culture of daily improvement that sets its own standard of excellence.

If you are not doing this in your organization, it may be time to ask yourself, "Why not?"

Written by Leo Bottary .