Why do I love the NFL? It is a great mixture of world class athletes, intense and emotional competition, vision and strategy, precise execution, fan interaction, and big business. For example:
It’s emotional. Only one team wins the big prize annually. The Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy is adorned; grown men have tears in their eyes while they embrace that trophy like their own child, after winning the Super Bowl. For teams who don’t follow the rules, they get penalized. Teams lose players to short and long term injuries, which can be devastating to the player, the entire team, the fans and the owner’s bottom line. Players are locked out. Referees are too. Owners balk, and then agree. Egos abound!
It’s consistent. During the fall and early winter, the games are all day every Sunday and Monday evening. And now every Thursday. Although lifestyles are very busy, millions of fans routinely make time to watch this #1 sport in America.
It embraces strategy. The owners are willing to invest a lot of money into players, coaches, fans, and facilities, to get a higher return on their investment. During the games, the teams have gameplans (strategies) on how to prepare, compete, and win. Countless hours are spent in the film rooms AND on the field prepping for the competition as well as honing the team’s strengths and weaknesses.
It’s about leadership. Each small group on every NFL team has a coach. Sure, there is a head coach. But there are also running back and linebacker coaches. There are owners and general managers. If all of these leaders are executing with precision to the strategy, it can be magical.
It’s all about execution. The team that executes with precision, wins. Execution is difficult to do, but easy to identify when it is done right. Whether it is scoring with 12 seconds to go in the first half to take a lead in to halftime or defending a goal line stance during the last two minutes, you know execution when you see it.
It’s about change. It is interesting how quickly a team can come together, even though EVERY team roster changes annually. Audibles are utilized and implemented within seconds after the offense reviews the defense stance. Each player has to perform and adjust as the game develops.
It’s about role clarity. It is fascinating to see how each player clearly knows his role on each play. A wide receiver runs his route, with timing and yardage completely in sync with his quarterback’s release of a throw. The offensive lineman block to protect the quarterback and to help gain yardage for the running back. The special teams help block for the punt returner. The athletic trainer and doctors know when to administer what treatment for injuries and pain.
It’s hi-tech. The stadiums are electric with big screen replays of nearly every play. Fantasy football allows the fan to build and manage his own team, anytime, anywhere. Nearly every game can be viewed ubiquitously, whether on a mobile device, laptop, via the internet or satellite TV. Games can be watched later in either full or 30 minute versions.
It gets people together. In the fall of 2011, 23 of the top 25 shows viewed were NFL games. And in many cases, these NFL games are watched in groups of fans who are eating, talking, and drinking together. Tailgating starts on early Sunday mornings in the stadium parking lots and goes well beyond the end of the game. Camping in the woods and parks has now moved to asphalt parking lots near stadiums.
It’s about patience. The teams who consistently perform at the highest levels are the teams with lack of turnover. For example, the NY Giants have remained committed to Tom Coughlin even though the NY press wants to fire him annually. Coughlin’s answer? Two Super Bowls in five years. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been in the hunt for decades, with the same family leading the franchise and purposefully selecting coaches who embrace their values. The Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers were truly dominating in the 1970s’s and 1980’s, respectively, with steady ownership, coaches, and quarterbacks. The New England Patriots have an owner in Robert Kraft and coach in Bill Belichick that trust one another and demonstrate excellence year after year. The Green Bay Packers fans are the most loyal in the business, as they own the team. That is not going to change.
It’s BIG business. Billions of dollars in television rights across five networks (NBC, FOX, CBS, ESPN, and NFL Network) and stadiums worth hundreds of million dollars grab the attention of fans, hopes and dreams of children, and other businesses who want to be a part of the NFL picture to broaden their brand.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that high-performing teams on the court/field and in business have the ability to perform at a very high level because each and every person on the team clearly knows the vision and their role, and executes it with precision. In today’s business world, role clarity and execution are becoming more and more important, as the room for error is so slim due to increased governance, regulations, shareholder and customer expectations. Is your team operating at a level that meets your vision? If not, identifying your vision and further clarifying roles might be the first steps to address. The NFL demonstrates this every week, on five different TV networks, with 32 teams owned by 32 different men in 32 different locations, with 53 players, who all know their role. Complexity in business can be overcome by a clear vision and role clarity. The NFL is a living and successful example.
Recently, a colleague wrote about the common phrase of “work life balance”. And then another colleague added that this common phrase should be changed to “work life integration.” This concerned me, as it prompted me to wonder what’s behind society and leaders allowing the move from “work life balance” to “work life integration”. In my practice, clients are teaching me a lot: if clients allow their work to integrate their life by not setting boundaries, not making purposeful & prioritized decisions, then the client is more apt to struggle with meeting their personal goals. If a client embraces and communicates their priorities and purpose, I find that the client can begin to establish new practices & habits, balance their life better, and achieve personal goals that previously seemed unachievable. Whether it is work life balance or work life integration, aren’t we better served by embracing life first?
I now am completely questioning this common phrase: “work life balance.” Throughout a person’s life, one spends approximately 15-25% of his/her time at work. Most of one’s time is spent sleeping, eating, relaxing, and enjoying life’s pleasures and treasures. Even though the globe is more connected than ever and working 24 hours/day 5 to 7 days/week, that still doesn’t give reason for work to integrate your personal life.
I recommend we change it up. How about we talk about balancing life into work and integrating life with work? Let’s rename it from work life balance or work life integration to Your Life’s Work. To make this shift, try answering these questions: What are your most important life goals? What are your goals for 2012 and 2013? What are your goals for the remainder of this year? What do you want employees at work to truly know about you? Does your boss understand your personal goals and how important they are to you?
As you answered those questions, what did you notice? Are your work goals just one piece of your overall personal or life goals? If they are, then you are well on your way to Your Life’s Work. If you noticed that your goals are more work focused, are you ready to be introspective and define who you want to be, what steps you need to take to develop your plan, and how you want to be remembered?
So, how can you change it up and move from struggling with work life balance to developing Your Life’s Work?
Talk & Ask. Who can you talk to about your life’s goals, priorities, and purpose? Who will support you along your journey in accomplishing Your Life’s Work? Pick someone who truly listens to your plan, asks insightful questions, and will support you. A good first step is to talk about and plan your personal time as rigorously as your work schedule.
Write. Numerous studies have indicated that individuals, sports teams, and companies who write down their goals are much more apt to achieve them than those who don’t write them. Keep in mind that not all goals are met, so be ready to expect that. In baseball, an excellent batting average is above .350. In football, a quarterback is superb when he connects on 75% of his passing attempts. In basketball, the best free throw shooters hit more than 85% of their free throws. Teams who win 75% of their games position themselves to win championships. Expect progress, not perfection.
Share. Let others know about your plans, your priorities, and Your Life’s Work. When others know a bit more about what’s behind your actions and decisions, they might be more apt to support you. For example, let your boss know that you want to take your children’s birthdays off annually, because you want the kids to know that one day a year, they are #1. That decision and action may also send a signal to your boss that you can prioritize highly important things in Your Life’s Work.
Display. If a company can post their strategy on their website and on employee bulletin boards, then where can you post your personal goals that will support Your Life’s Work? I post mine annual goals by our personal calendar in the kitchen and also carry it in my wallet. It is always present, to help keep me focused on My Life’s Work.
Go. Take the first step toward Your Life’s Plan. Progress begins with that first step, embracing the plan, & doing it.
Let Your Life’s Work begin. Talk to someone today, so you can display and start Your Life’s Work tomorrow.