FOOTBALL IS FOR GIRLS: LESSONS FROM THE NFL
I’m sitting on the couch and my heart is racing. I am in serious panic and can hardly breathe. The game is on. And it is close. My team just made a game-winning play with only a few seconds left so the other team has no chance. It’s over boys. But wait. What was that? A whistle, why, what’s going on? In all of my years of watching football this is a first for me. My team’s coach called for timeout right before the play. Half a second later, the play was made. But alas, half a second too late. The points came off the board. My team lost. A heartbreaking, devastating loss. Game over. Both coaches ran onto the field, and what did my team’s coach do? Shook the other coach’s hand. Here is what the NFL has taught me:
DIGNITY IN LOSS
Career navigation is tumultuous. Sometimes it’s good, other times it is terrible. I have been overworked, underpaid, oppressed, disrespected, bored, and subject to a hostile work environment many many times. Oh yeah, and fired! Those losses were hard for yours truly to swallow considering that my dues in education time and money are all paid up.
My favorite was once when a dude fired me and then said he wanted to shake my hand. I sat at my desk staring at my blank computer screen trying not to cry. Within a second a million thoughts ran through my mind. I hated him. The last thing I wanted to do was to shake his hand. So what did I do? I told those tears to stay all the way down, do not dare well up! Then I told that girl (me) to get up. Get up and shake that dude’s hand. And before the tears and the girl could override me, I stood up, walked the three giant steps to the door where he stood, looked him in the eyes and shook his hand.
Just like those NFL coaches who take that long walk onto the field and shake the winning coach’s hand, so too must the career girl take her losses with dignity. Think of it this way, losses are a dime a dozen, they are nothing special. What is special is your modus operandi. How you regularly conduct yourself. Shaking your opponent’s hand in loss is like a medal of honor for your character, and that is what winners do.
UNDRAFTED PLAYERS BECOME SUPERSTARS
Some of the biggest names in football were either never drafted, or drafted late to ride the bench indefinitely. Here’s the story of a man named Brady. Tom Brady. He was drafted in the 6th round. Now even if you know nothing about football, you gotta know that a bunch of people got drafted in each of the 5 rounds before that. So we are talking bench warmer city. Today Brady is one of the biggest NFL superstars, performance-based that is. His stats his stats his stats. Say that sentence fast, I dare you. He’s awesome. Even if you don’t like him, you gotta admit, he’s awesome. The boy wins, he wins big. Three Super Bowl rings, and more, much more. But let’s not get into his stats. His stats his stats.
Listen up ladies. Learn from Tommy boy. No matter how gloomy the beginning of your career seems to be, your chance is coming. Keep working, keep believing, keep performing, and you will pave the way for your superstardom. It happens all the time in the NFL, why not you?
FOOTBALL PLAYERS STAY UP
So of the three football terms that I actually know, one of them is “running back”. The running back gets the ball handed to him and he takes off running. And running, and running. The other team has one goal: KNOCK. HIM. DOWN. I recently watched a running back in action, and I was amazed. It wasn’t until I watched the replay in slow motion that it all clicked. He ran through a wall of men, head up, head down, turn around…everything but got down. They couldn’t get him down. He stayed up. He even put his fingers on the ground for support, but those knees stayed up. This is what we can learn. Stay up.
We all want to throw in the towel after getting beat up enough. Whether we feel stuck at a certain level or paygrade, or the thrill is gone and we want to move on but don’t know how, career navigation can feel like battle. Stay up. Run through the hard knocks. Get spun around. Hold on to something for support if you must, but stay up! That’s what winners do.
So there you have it. Football is not just a game where we salivate over yummy man candy in tights running fast and hitting hard. No. There are real lessons to learn from these hot boys and their coaches. Through each career phase, make people remember you for your dignity even in loss, your hardness through battle, and your determination to stay up no matter what army they bring to knock you down. And as a bonus, make them remember just how much you appreciate watching those boys in tights. Waka waka.