Black Monday in the NFL
Few understand the challenges that we as leaders face. And very rarely are they willing to apply the same standards to themselves.
It’s Black Monday in the NFL — a cold-hearted day in which struggling organizations give pink slips to beleaguered coaches. Tears will be shed, families will be uprooted, and lives will change.
Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings is one coach in danger of losing his job today. Zimmer was a long-time, successful defensive assistant in the NFL, who finally took over as Minnesota’s head coach in 2014. He has amassed 72 wins over eight years, but his team has missed the playoffs in each of the last two. Zimmer recently offered great perspective on his future.
“Regardless of anything that goes on after the season, I can stand proud,’’ he recently told KFAN Radio. “When I walk into a stadium like Lambeau (Field) or I walk into U.S. Bank Stadium and I say to myself, ‘A billion people would love to be sitting here right now and doing this job.”’
“I do think it’s different that people can talk about your job and being let go and things like that and not understanding the effects of all your coaches, effects of all the players, effects of their families and they say it after you lose every week,’’ he added. “So they don’t go around saying they should fire that doctor or fire that landscape guy or anything like that. So it’s just part of the business, I guess.”
It’s human nature to judge and second-guess others. But few really understand the challenges that we as leaders face — and very rarely are they willing to apply the same standards to themselves.
But let’s turn back the clock to 1979. Let’s ask Zimmer, a baby-faced defensive assistant at the University of Missouri, if he would be content over his football career to advance the sport with defensive schemes. Then, let’s ask him if he’d be satisfied with winning a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys. Let’s also see if he’d be pleased with becoming a winning NFL head coach while leading his team to three playoffs and one conference championship game.
It seems undeniable that he would’ve signed the papers on the spot.
As leaders, we will experience bumps and detours on our journeys. We will suffer painful endings that we did not want or deserve.
One strategy to get us over the anguish of being fired is to reflect on the early stages of our careers and ask ourselves to candidly assess the progress we’ve made. More often than not, our success has far exceeded our wildest imaginations.
Instead of feeling bitter, resentful and downtrodden, we must move on to our next achievement, in whatever capacity that is. We must remember that we are the only important critics of our own journeys, and we can never allow short-term negativity to outweigh our long-term talents and triumphs. We have to stand proud of what we have accomplished.
Whatever hardship we may currently be facing, let’s be sure we turn back the clock from time to time and remind ourselves of our career goals when we first started out.
Chances are, we have achieved far more than we ever expected.