What it takes to ‘go pro’

pro football blog

I’m not a huge sports fan. I don’t have the time to regularly watch sports. However, I am a huge fan of leadership. I’m actually studying leadership when I do have time to watch sports. I’m fascinated by the decisions coaches make on the sidelines or leaders make on the field of play. You can see vivid leadership lessons when a team is losing late in the game. 

Football might be one of the physically demanding team sports on earth.  So, if you want to watch 3 hours of leaders demonstrating physical courage, look no further than the NFL on Sunday afternoons in the USA.  And anyone who knows football, knows the physical skills, as well as the leadership talent, it takes to play the position of quarterback in the NFL.  

That’s why I was so honored to learn and think about leadership with a guy like Tom Flick, a former NFL quarterback, for my latest episode of the UNBEATABLE podcast.

There are several valuable leadership lessons Tom described in that interview.  I hope you got your money’s worth ( and since the podcast is free, I know you got your money’s worth). During this interview, Tom describes how he answers when someone asks him what it takes to ‘go pro’ in the NFL.  

Since leaving professional football, Tom has transitioned into a leadership expert who is high demand. Here are a couple of Tom’s thoughts that I hope will carry with you from UNBEATABLE this week.

Don’t let obstacles tackle you

It takes talent and toughness to go pro.  But Tom didn’t get into the NFL by physical talent alone. His mental agility and moral strength made him succeed on the football field. He refused to let anything and anyone tackle his dreams on the way to the big stadiums of the NFL. As a result, Tom played on some of the biggest football teams in the country and played for the legendary coach, Joe Gibbs. 

However, no matter how hard you train, sometimes life will tackle you when you least expect it.  Tom described how life hit him hard and unexpectedly when he faced a family health crisis. I hope you learn how leaders prepare for the expected and also face the unexpected from Tom.

Changes to your game plan

No one stays in the NFL as long as they wish.  That’s also true of Tom.  After several years in the league, he was faced with some hard career decisions while his mother was suffering from cancer.  Moments like this make a person take stock of what’s really important in life.

A spectacular career and setting records can’t replace losing a parent.  When faced with a choice between family and a future in the NFL, Tom’s game plan for life changed.  He made the courageous decision to leave the league and focus on a different future.

For the people that have moved from career to career, from job to job, this kind of switch doesn’t seem that significant.  But for anyone who has dedicated their entire life, from early childhood, to mastering one sport or trade, this type of change causes the ground to shift beneath your feet.  Tom had a solid rock to support him as he transitioned from the NFL to becoming a high-demand corporate speaker and leadership consultant. His footing was strong because of Tom’s rock-solid faith.  Is your faith strong enough to help you through the biggest transitions in life?

Leading off the field 

When the world was changing around him, Tom met those changes head on.  In the process, he learned a couple of lessons about change… lessons that eventually would help him off the gridiron, just like they benefited him on the field. Tom learned how to face the challenges that all leaders go through when facing change.  Soon he started helping other leaders face the challenges of their industries also.

Having guided multibillion dollar companies like the Starbucks, Microsoft, NASA, and Ford, Tom has been able to take his leadership experiences from the football field and transition them to just about any corporate field.  His skills as a corporate consultant come from his ability to analyze a problem and figure out a game plan to win. It’s accurate to say that he has ‘gone pro’ in a second career as a corporate consultant and leadership strategist.

Nothing great comes easy in life, and if you want to go pro at anything, you’re going to have to put in the hard work.  But if you’re willing to do the work and willing to face the changes, you’ll be able to block some of the obstacles that will tackle others around you.  That is how Tom made it to the pros in two careers.  And by the way, that recipe will not only get to the pros, but it will also make you unbeatable in life.

To listen to the whole interview, click here.

Further reading