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Leadership Thought #289 – It’s Not Enough To Be Talented

One of the reasons I like playoff football is because you really get to see what a team is made of.  Once the competition gets to a certain level, there aren’t any easy games.   You can’t simply get by on the other team’s deficiencies or a major talent disadvantage.  You actually have to go out and proactively win the game.  Besides the obvious need for athletic skill and preparation, you need courage, determination, and toughness to perform at a high level in the NFL.

There is no more stressful, maligned or integral leadership position in sports than the quarterback.  Winning big games involves making critical plays in the clutch and avoiding (and sometimes overcoming) costly mistakes, which isn’t easy when you are under constant pressure and threat.   Most of us don’t have to make split second decisions with powerful 250-300 pound adversaries breathing down out neck and looking to do us harm. It really is something to watch when an individual steps up in this situation and performs at a high level.  Think about it, there are only a handful of professional athletes physically and emotionally capable of pulling this off.  It’s even more difficult to do it consistently year after year.  This is what makes quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Eli Manning so special. 

You need more than talent to succeed as a leader.   You will have lead when it’s hard not just when it’s easy. Your mettle will be tested.  You will be under a constant spotlight and have no shortage of critics.  Sometimes it will feel like the cards are stacked against you and your options are limited. You will get knocked down repeatedly and have to get back up.  Others will look to you to solve problems they cannot or will not handle.  You will need to be resilient in the face of adversity and give your people direction and hope.  You will need to be the calming influence in the midst of a storm.  You must learn from your mistakes (there will be many) and use this knowledge to get better.  You will be humbled and sometimes lose even when you do your best.  You will have to regularly outwork, outthink and outperform your competition. 

It’s not enough to be blessed with natural ability and the wherewithal to seize opportunity. You have to want to win badly enough to put forth the required effort to continually succeed especially when it’s hard. 


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