Score! Four Career Lessons We Can Learn From Football

Two years ago years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about football. I loathed the sight of 22 sweaty, burly, and aggressive men vying for a prolated-spheroid ball on a 100-yard field, which consumed approximately 12 hours of MY cuddle-time on Sundays.

Be prepared for the unexpected in the workplace - whether you wear cleats or a really nice pair of heels.
Be prepared for the unexpected in the workplace – whether you wear cleats or a really nice pair of heels.

I digressed. Slowly, instead of despising the game, I attempted to understand it and became intrigued. Each player has the ability to strategically follow a plan for each play, work under extreme pressure, and function in a team. Sound familiar?

Whether you believe it or not, football imparts principles that can help elevate career advancement. We often become mesmerized by the excitement of the game and forget areas that each player has to master in order to succeed personally and in a team.

Don’t believe me? Check out four lessons that football shows us every time we tune into the game:

Communication = Trust

There is no “I” in team. Period. Your company cannot win if you pursue tasks that are meant to be executed interdependently. Practice transparent and thorough communication with your colleagues to build trust and efficiency on the playing field. Be open to suggestions of improvement and be a regular contributor of feedback for ways that your team can progress during meetings. Evaluate your position and make it your duty to understand how you are holistically adding value. Remain humble and human – share your talents, advice, and expertise with others to gain a win for all.

Expand Your Comfort Zone

What do you do when a key player is taken out of the game? In the workplace, many unexpected scenarios can arise from others that play important roles, including being promoted, relocated, laid-off, terminated, or being benched for a personal, medical or family emergency. When the worst case scenario blitzes your team by storm, be prepared to lace up your cleats and deliver the performance of your career. Flexibility is essential when a play is intercepted by life’s challenges and it is critical that your colleagues can count on you to deliver when time and all odds are against you.

Timing is Everything

As you advance through your career, you have to strategically map out your next play to reach victory. If the timing isn’t carefully calculated to help you charge across the professional playing field, you can variably miss your chance to excel. Amp up your playbook by committing yourself to being early for work, meeting or exceeding deadlines, and keeping a good read (watchful eye) for new opportunities of professional development. Someone from the sidelines will always be observing your efforts and can be your biggest supporter or critic when it’s time to determine the most valuable player.

Every play counts.
Every play counts.

No Pain, No Gain

No matter how much protective gear you use to safeguard yourself in the workplace, you may eventually be tackled to a low point in your career. It is possible you didn’t make first-round draft pick for a new position or have been traded for subpar abilities. Or worse, you may be in a toxic environment where you are constantly criticized for your performance – publicly or behind your back. It’s no secret that you have to be tough mentally and physically in the game of football; the same rules apply in the workplace. When you use self-mastery to ultimately realize that getting hurt is an element of your career journey, you will find it easier to recover from work-inflicted pain. Never dwell on how you fell; celebrate how you were able to get back up.

Football is your career’s best kept secret. When you truly understand the fundamental principles that the players practice on the field, you can use this knowledge to assess your work ethic and determine how you can improve professionally to gain the touchdown of your career. Score!

Whitney L. White is slowly becoming a die-hard football fan. Although she doesn’t actively search for game stats or frequent to ESPN, she realizes that the game of football provides valuable themes to navigating through a career. You can find her tweeting during Super Bowl XLVIII at @i_HEARTNews rooting for______________ (Who’s playing again?)


10 thoughts on “Score! Four Career Lessons We Can Learn From Football

    1. Great analogies, it’s fascinating how lessons from football, and sports in general can be applied to the work force, and life in general. Great article, being a football fan for 30+ yrs, I will say you know your stuff.

      1. Thanks Jeff! I never thought in a million years that I would learn a career lesson from football, but there is value on the field. I am slowly, but surely picking up on the game and enjoy it. There are other lessons to be learned, like discipline, perseverance, personal brand etc. but the four listed in the post stuck out the most as I was typing along. Thank you so much for reading, I am glad you enjoyed it!

  1. Im not a big fan of football but I would agree a good playbook and communicative teamwork are vital to a successful career. Great article

  2. Simpy desire to say your article iss as astounding. The clarity iin your publish is just nice and i can assume
    you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let
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    with coming near near post. Thanks one million and plkease carry on the enjoyable work.

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