Good things happen near the football, so run to it.
I heard Joe Buck say this last Sunday during his weekly broadcast for the NFL. Coming from a lifetime of playing and being around sports, I have heard the phrase (and many others like it) countless times. So, I’m not sure what was different about when he said it last week, but it affected me more than any time before.
The context was something like an offensive lineman hopping on a football ten yards downfield after his running back fumbled. Fans cheered, teammates got fired up, and coaches yelled praise. It was a hustle play. Good things happen near the football, so run to it.
It got me thinking: what can we learn from this phrase in a business context? And what is my “football”?
Well first, let’s look at how it applies in business.
I think it’s a testament that not much gets people more excited than effort. Especially when that effort comes from someone who isn’t “supposed to make the play”. The only reason the offensive lineman had the opportunity to save the possession was because he was giving 100% effort, even when he wasn’t supposed to be needed. Effort transitions into momentum. Momentum keeps a team moving forward, avoiding a misstep, and continuing toward the endzone.
In business, every day is urgent. Technology is improving and competition is getting smarter. If you take a misstep, it could set you back months or years. Then all the sudden, someone makes a play they’re not supposed to make and saves you time, energy, and money. The whole team benefits. All because they understood the impact of staying near the action.
The deeper layer is that “good” things only happen if you successfully make the play. No one would be praising the offensive lineman if he was in the right place but then botched the recovery. Instead, they would probably make a joke about “that’s why he’s not a receiver” and move on to the commercial break.
Which means it’s not just effort that leads to success in those situations, but also preparation. Preparation comes from good coaching. Coaching that stresses the importance of understanding all parts of the game and doing the little things right. Any person can be a playmaker, but they need to be near the action and prepared to succeed when they get there.
And what is my “football”?
Well, that’s a hard question to answer. I think it probably would represent my goals in general. I had a friend of mine say to me recently, “You’re not going to get what you want unless you tell people that you want it.” His point being that you can have all the goals you want, but you are going to need help to achieve them. In short, if you put yourself close to the action, you give yourself the opportunity to succeed.
What does it all mean?
Maybe nothing. I might just be romanticizing an off-hand comment from a lazy Sunday that didn’t have much else to think about.
But if you want to see it deeper, then I think it means to make sure people know what you want. Put yourself out there, interact on linkedin, make time for conversations, stay in touch via email; these are all ways of staying near the action.
And as we now know, good things happen near the football, so run to it.
7 December 2021
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