A few weeks ago now, I took on a thankless job of pointing out The 6 Most Important Life Lessons Learned by Playing on the Offensive Line. My email exploded with great feedback, and the piece quickly became one of the most read articles on the site in the past year.
Today, I decided to built on that creative thought process, but pointing out the 9 Life Lessons That Playing Football Teaches Quarterbacks. There’s a reason why a large number of those who lead Fortune 500 companies and become CEO’s are former quarterbacks.
After taking snaps, quarterbacks have been instilled with a number of life lessons that serve as an advantage for them in the real world. Without even realizing it, many quarterbacks coaches are teaching each and every one of these things to their guys, little by little, throughout the course of the year.
1 – No one cares about the obstacles you face, just get the job done
At the end of the day, or the end of the game, no one really cares about the adversity you had to face, the only thing that really mattered is whether you got the job done or not. Have a big deadline to hit, but don’t feel the best? Well your superiors at work aren’t going to care, they just want the finished product to be able to pass along to their bosses. Jam your finger and bruise some ribs on the last drive of the game with the team depending on you? It sounds harsh, but no one really cares at the end of the day. Just produce. If you don’t someone else at the office, or on the field will be waiting in the wings (see #9).
2 – The importance of delivering when everyone depends it, and all eyes are fixated on you
The quarterback position is not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to learn quickly how to produce while being the focal point of every eye in the stands. You’ll be dealt a ton of praise, a hefty dose of criticism (some warranted, while much of it is not), and a number of other things along the way. Guys who learn to deal with all of that, with all eyes on them from the stands and the huddle, are prepared for the real world.
3 – Having a team of individuals depend on you to make the right decisions AND execute
The quarterback position has a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders. Not only are all eyes fixated on them, but they’ve also got to process information at breakneck speed. Just making the right decision as a signalcaller isn’t enough, you also have to execute.
4 – The importance of communication
Whether you’re in the huddle, or communicating the play from the line of scrimmage you can’t whisper and expect everyone to know what the call is. The same goes in the real world, communication is key, and speaking clearly so everyone knows what they’re supposed to do is just as important as speaking loud enough for all to hear.
5 – How to keep your composure when adversity strikes
Just like in games (and practice), in life, adversity is bound to come knocking on your door. As a quarterback, it’s important not only that you stay composed for the sake of the rest of the guys you take the field with, but it’s also important that you keep your teammates level headed as well. That will serve you well in the workforce.
6 – The importance in being “a thermostat, and not a thermometer”
What’s the difference you’re probably asking yourself. Well a thermometer adjusts based on the temperature in the room, while the thermostat actually sets the temperature in the room. It should be easy to see why quarterbacks need to be thermostats. Once they hit the real world and don’t feed into the office negativity rumor mill, they’ll understand why this was so important as a player.
7 – It doesn’t have to be pretty to get the job done
An end over end pass into the end zone to a waiting receiver is still worth as much as if that ball were a tight spiral. Oftentimes it doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to get the job done.
8 – The ability to improvise will always come in handy
The same way that improv is handy when the pocket breaks down, having improvisational skills in the real world will only benefit you. That moment you have a presentation in front of your bosses and the projector doesn’t seem to want to work, scrambling for your life while keeping your eyes down field on game day will come in handy and you’ll be more prepared to make things work.
9 – Whether you’re the starter or third-string, you prepare like you’re going to take snaps on game day
Legends are made among elite quarterbacks because of the way they approach their craft as backups. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and a host of other guys were once backups before being thrust into the starting role, and what separated them from the rest of backups thrust into the QB1 role is how they prepared for that opportunity. Guys that understand that will do great in the real world, because regardless of their position in the company, or in life, they’ll always be gunning for that promotion and next step.