(This post takes about 3.5 minutes to read)
My wife recently saw the off Broadway musical “Chicago” with my son. She had a great time. One of the stars of the show was former football player Eddie George. Eddie was the Heisman Trophy winner in college, an award given to the best football player that year. He spent 12 years playing in the NFL. I was awed by the change in career that he made.
I am interested in understanding how he got to this spot, making a huge career change – and how that might help us consider something similar.
How did Eddie George make such a huge transition?
I don’t have all of the facts, but I think I can guess at some of the major elements of his journey.
Let’s be honest up front. Eddie George had a long NFL career. He made a lot of money. So he could afford (financially) to take a chance. But once past that, there was a lot of work to do
Step 1: Self Reflect
He probably spent a lot of time looking at himself. He must have decided to do some self-reflection at some point. I suspect he asked questions such as:
What do I like? What am I good at? What skills and interests do I have? What energizes me? How would I like to spend my time?
I don’t know the answers he came up with but I think this might have been part of his thinking:
- Entertaining others. As a professional athlete, he did that
- Teamwork. To succeed in football, it takes a large group with diverse backgrounds and skills – fellow players, coaches, trainers, support staff. You know that you don’t succeed in sports without all of them. Plus, one of the allures of sports is the camaraderie and togetherness of a team. He probably thrives in that team environment. The same thing happens in a large production off-Broadway
- Risk-taking. Playing football is very risky. Injury is a constant threat. Every mistake – big and small – you make is scrutinized and debated. You have to be willing to expect failure, and to have your failure scrutinized. Singing and dancing on stage seems risky too. Mess up a line? Stumble while dancing? Not hit the right notes in a song? Everyone notices and comments on it.
- Loving to learn. Moving from high school to college to professional football requires a progression of skills and concepts you must learn. Many of them never get noticed by others. But you must learn them to progress. Performing in a play requires a similar level of learning.
Step #2: Consider Transferable Skills
I suspect next he looked at what skills he had that could be transferable from football. Some that seem apparent to me are:
- Hard work, often behind the scenes, to get the job done
- Willingness to do all of the tasks, including the small things and the less glamorous tasks in order to do a job right
- Humbleness – willing to start from the bottom and work my way up
- Desire to learn
- Mental discipline to follow a script – and know when to adjust
- Knowing when to lead and when to listen to the advice, counsel and direction of others (even if they are subordinate to me)
BTW, if you think, “my job is so unique, I don’t have a lot of transferable skills”, I say “hogwash”. Football is a very specific sport, yet many of the skills/experiences are transferable.
Applying this to us
So how does this apply to us?
Major News Flash. We can do what Eddie did. No, not play professional football or be the lead in a off-Broadway musical (picturing myself doing that would only work as a comedy farce!). But we can:
Take some time to REALLY focus on our transferable skills. It would have been natural for Eddie to think that his football skills might translate to a sports broadcaster, coach or fitness trainer. But he looked waayyyyyy beyond the obvious. Why not us?
Put in the work to get from “here” to “there”. Eddie George did not get selected for this Broadway role because of his football ability. He was willing to train. He was willing to start over. He took a significant pay cut. He took a “responsibilities” cut. Why not us? Maybe we don’t have to do something as drastic as Eddie. But maybe we do.
Why not us?
Be willing to be a lifelong learner in whatever interests you. Eddie had to study dance. He had to learn how to sing and act. The way a play works, the terminology, the interaction with others, the culture, the understanding of who is in charge is vastly different from what he did before. He learned it. Why not us?