Checkers or Chess?
Monopoly or The Settlers of Catan?
Football (American) or soccer?
The short game or the long game?
Regardless of what you like, there is a structure to how a game is played. Some games may be linear in nature, while others may be more complex or even multidimensional. Your approach to a single game will likely be different than how you approach playing multiple games in one sitting. Losing one game may not be a big deal if you can shape the outcome of the follow-on game.
After watching multiple NFL games throughout the season, and especially through the recent playoffs, it became apparent to me that the New England Patriots are playing a different game than their competitors. Of course they competed week-to-week this season, performed well, and are certainly interested in winning the Super Bowl in a week or so.
But, I think the team leadership takes a long-term view to how they run the team. If they win the Super Bowl, then great. If not, then no problem because they'll show up next year ready to play ball again at optimum efficiency and effectiveness. They will continue to be competitive and they will try again next year. Isn't that what all leaders want out of their organizations?
Looking at this objectively, the Patriots in particular have built an effective system around their star quarterback that has kept them consistently competitive over at least the last decade. They don't seem to get hung up on certain high value players and seem willing to explore less expensive resources that have strong potential. The constant motion within the team seems to have had the effect of keeping the team fresh each season.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are clearly at the core of team, setting the tone and direction that the team will take each play, game, or season. Their system of playing transcends mere goals that other players or teams may have and has ensured that they will continue to compete at the highest levels of the sport over time.
As in sports, staying relevant for the long term is about building an effective, flexible way of doing business.