30 Years Jubilee: Super Bowl, Flow, Creativity & You!

Today, 30 years ago, in 1993, in February, a set of rather extraordinary and important events happened.

Many people have been inspired to creativity by the ideas of Prof. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
But only a few people know that the widespread use of the Flow theory is the result of “an unusual association. In 1993 Jimmy Johnson, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, showed the book on Flow to the camera during the break of the Super Bowl, explaining that the ideas in that exceptional book had contributed a great deal to the preparation of the team. It turned out to be a good reference, as the team won the Super Bowl in that year.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book on Flow was made world-famous overnight when Jimmy Johnson, now a super-star coach explained to reporters how his team was able to win the contested Super Bowl mega-sports event.

My team has won, because of this book.
We did, what is written in this book.
Read this book!

Team-Flow, creativity, and high performance were also the secret recipe with which the King of Pop, fired up the atmosphere during the half-time show, the broadcasters reaching a record high number of TV viewers back then. He kicked it off with a big bang. Michael Jackson suddenly seemed to appear high up on the top of a giant video screen in the enormous stadium. Only to reappear seconds later, in the middle of the stadium, on stage! Launching a great music mix of his best songs, whilst the crowd began to scream and cheer to his greatest hits.

Meanwhile, on the sidelines, something equally interesting was going on: the football teams were rebuilding their forces and team spirit and it turned out that the Dallas Cowboys, under their unusual coach driven by a peculiar concept called “Flow”, change the mindset of his team and won! Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow, had been an integral part of their training leading up to this great day and accompanying them on their road to sustaining this success and the secret to winning the 1993 Super Bowl.

Since then the concept of Flow has become widely known and our blog pages on flowleadership.org and our professional thematic Collections 88th on Google+ explain in greater detail why being in Flow leads to greater performance, creativity, and happiness.

Flow-Leadership then is the next level of complexity: By adopting a “Flow-promoting leadership” style and making  Flow part of your organizational culture, you will set the basis for more Group Flow, a better Corporate Climate, higher level of Engagement. Csikszentmihalyi’s book “Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience” is now a global all-time top-10 bestseller, but so is “Good Business: Leadership, Flow and the Making of Meaning“. It describes how Group Flow is the basis for outstanding financial performance and for a sustainable role of companies in society and our broader environment.

I wish that you, the reader, will also be inspired by the notion of bringing more Flow into your daily life, into your work practices, and into the life of people you personally are interacting with day-in-day-out!

Michael Jackson performs in 1993 during halftime at Super Bowl between the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills in Pasadena. And the day when Csikszentmihalyi’s Book ‘Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience’ became world-famous overnight.

Read more on this historic & great event further below!

Super Bowl XXVII  in 1993 was between the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion. The Cowboys defeated the Bills by the score of 52–17, winning their third Super Bowl in team history, and their first one in fifteen years.

Michael Jackson performed during the entire halftime show, starting the NFL’s trend of signing top acts to appear during the Super Bowl to attract more viewers and interest.

The resurrection of the Dallas Cowboys

Super Bowl XXVII saw the resurrection of the Cowboys. In the late 1980s, the team suffered several losing seasons, and with Jimmy Johnson as head coach people in the league thought they could take advantage as he lacked NFL experience, and instead of hiring coaching assistants with experience in the league, they hired ones that worked with Johnson in Miami. Compounding this issue was the departure of the two men that brought previous success to Dallas.

Johnson started to rebuild the team by drafting players who were fast, quick, and athletic. The defense was designed to become aggressive, while the offense was made to be a conservative one that did not make mistakes. Still, many thought that the inexperienced Cowboys might panic under the pressure of playing in their first Super Bowl, and thus make a number of mistakes. Also, some thought Buffalo’s no-huddle offense could eventually wear down and dominate Dallas’ young defense.

Finally, Jimmy Johnson was looking to become the first head coach to win a college football national championship and a Super Bowl. As of today, only 2 other coaches remain the only coaches ever to achieve this goal.

Television and entertainment

The game was broadcast in the United States by NBC. Super Bowl XXVII was broadcast to 125 countries around the world. The NFL’s Greatest Games episode A Man and His Moment features Jimmy Johnson reading excerpts from his book Turning the Thing Around: My Life in Football, interspersed with game footage and audio from Super Bowl XXVII. It was based on the Super Bowl XXVII highlight film, which had the same title as this episode.

Michael Jackson‘s halftime solo performance and global profile sparked a trend in the NFL’s hiring of famous artists and celebrities to provide entertainment during Super Bowl intermissions. Unlike many previous years, he was the only performer in the entire halftime show.
Jackson started the performance by being catapulted on stage and then simply standing frozen in one of his famous ‘Dangerous’ poses.

The “King of Pop” performed a medley of songs “Jam”, “Billie Jean” and “Black or White”. The finale featured an audience card stunt, a video montage showing Jackson participating in various humanitarian efforts around the world, and a choir of 3,500 local Los Angeles area children singing “We Are the World”, later joining Jackson as he sang his single “Heal the World”.

Because of Jackson’s star power, the Fox network declined to broadcast counter-programming against the halftime show as they did during Super Bowl XXVI’s show in the previous year. Fox would never broadcast counter-programming again against the Super Bowl.

It was the first Super Bowl where the audience figures actually increased during the half-time show. The selection of Jackson for the halftime show was in response to sagging interest in recent performances, notably in the two years immediately prior. NFL and network officials decided it was necessary to sign top acts for halftime in future years to boost future viewership and interest.

Jackson’s creative performance – clearly in the mental state of FLOW – is still considered today as one of the most watched television broadcasts in American television history.

Game summary and details

Things started out well for Buffalo. The Cowboys were forced to a three-and-out on their opening possession. Four plays later, Thurman Thomas scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Bills the 7–0 early lead. Dallas then reached their own 40-yard line on their next drive, but an illegal formation penalty nullified running back Emmitt Smith’s 12-yard run. Troy Aikman then threw two consecutive incompletions, and the Cowboys were forced to punt again. The Bills subsequently advanced to midfield with the aid of a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett and a 21-yard reception by wide receiver Andre Reed.

Then the wave of turnovers began. On the next play, a blitz by reserve defensive back Kenneth Gant forced a pass by Jim Kelly that Dallas safety James Washington intercepted and returned 13 yards to the Bills 47-yard line. Six plays later, the Cowboys tied the game on Aikman’s 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jay Novacek. The Cowboys then stormed down the field on their next possession, scoring in just five plays. After a pair of completions by Aikman for 17 yards, Smith’s 38-yard run gave the Cowboys a first down inside the Bills 20-yard line. Aikman then finished the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Irvin, increasing his team’s lead to 21–10.

Dallas then took the opening drive of the second half and advanced 77 yards in 11 plays, featuring a 25-yard reception by Irvin. This increased their lead to 31–10. Both teams were unable to score on each of their next possessions, but on the last play of the quarter, Reich threw a 40-yard touchdown pass In the 4th quarter, Aikman threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Harper. Then on the second play of the Bills’ next possession, Everett intercepted a pass from Reich and returned it 22 yards to Buffalo’s 8-yard line, setting up another touchdown on Smith’s 10-yard run. After Buffalo received the ensuing kickoff, Reich fumbled a high snap while in a shotgun formation. Norton recovered the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown, increasing the Cowboys’ lead to 52–17. The 21 points by the Cowboys is the most ever for a team in the 4th quarter. The Cowboys also became just the second team to score two non-offensive touchdowns in a Super Bowl. The Raiders also did so in Super Bowl XVIII with a blocked punt return and an interception return.

Buffalo had seven possessions which ended in four plays or less because of turnovers and resulted in five Dallas touchdowns. Irvin and Bills receiver Andre Reed each had over 100 yards receiving, making it the first time players from different teams had at least 100 yards receiving in a Super Bowl; Irvin had 114 yards, while Reed had 152. Reed’s total is the highest for a player on a losing team.

Edited by: Dr. Zoltan Buzady, Director, ‘Leadership & Flow Global Research Network’ powered by FLIGBY (c) ALEAS Simulations Inc.