January 25, 2010

Lessons from Losing the Big Game

Ah, bummer. My team just lost the NFC championship, which means they won’t be going to the Super Bowl – which might be over and done with by the time you read this.

And anyway, the whole football thing will soon be eclipsed by the Olympics and the basketball Final Four and every other sports matchup you can think of. My disappointment over this loss has a lifespan roughly matching my attention span, which isn’t that long when it comes to sports.

Which is all the more reason to pull some deeper meaning from the 10 or more Sunday afternoons I’ve spent watching the games. If I can’t claim a victory for our team, can I at least say I’ve learned something?

To begin with the obvious, I learned what everyone else learned from watching our quarterback, the Minnesota Vikings’ Brett Favre. At 40, he’s the oldest quarterback to play pro football and he performed marvelously. Not only did he make few mistakes, but he outmatched his opponents consistently on nearly every count. After 19 years in the game, he had his best season ever and it all happened against a constant drumbeat of commentators wondering aloud if he was too old to play.

Lesson: I’ll be the one to tell you if I’m too old for something, whether it be a physical endeavor, a job, or a ridiculously short dress that I want to wear to the party.

I learned something about teamwork and mentoring as well. This team is gifted with a number of players who can move the ball, but not all of them believed fully in their own abilities. Favre is credited with trusting each and every receiver, to the point of making them better than they thought they could be.

Lesson: Having at least one person believe you can do something can make the difference. Finding a mentor can put your career on track.

Last, I learned something about perseverance and grit. How do these guys keep going week after week when they’re getting the snot kicked out of them? Arguably, they shouldn’t and I probably shouldn’t encourage them by watching. But they do. And if they can, so can I, and so can you. Never mind that we’re not getting paid millions like they are. Just focus on the lesson, not the irony.

Lesson: Perseverance does count in life, including in job search. Keep pushing.

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