Monday, November 29, 2010

Adventures in missing the catch

Yesterday, Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson dropped a pass - a game winning, wide open, overtime pass that would have won the game. That's a bad day no matter what. But then, he tweeted this:


The bad day just got worse. Here are just a few thoughts on life and leadership I have after hearing the story (and reading Romans 11 this morning).

1. Watch out for entitlement creep.

It's real easy to confuse God's blessing with entitlement. God doesn't owe us anything. Everything we have has been given to us by him and it's already more than we deserve. Disappointment and failure isn't punishment - it's the ingredients to a great story.

2. Worship is not a commodity to give or withhold. We don't bestow it upon God as though He needs it.

God isn't looking for favors from us. Worship isn't a business transaction where I do my part, now you do yours. God is still God and worthy of worship, but he doesn't owe me because I worship Him.

3. Worship that doesn't change us is worthless.

If we're "praising 24/7" but in the end it's still about us, we may have missed the point. If you and I aren't becoming more humble, more generous, more life-giving to those around us as a result of our worship, then maybe it isn't really worship after all.

4. Perspective comes with time. Allow yourself to go through the process.

I've been in athletic competition where I cost my team the game. My mistake, or my inability to make the play ended our chances. And you know what? There were plenty of great days after that. Whether it's in business, in relationships, or whatever - allow the time necessary to give you the right perspective on the situation. At the end of the day, it's still a football game. I think back to last year's near perfect game by Armando Galarraga - which after replays clearly was a perfect game blown by a bad call. Galarraga handled that disappointment with the utmost class because he stayed calm and held it all in perspective.

5. In the extremes, don't grab a microphone.

A really bad day got a whole lot worse because the disappointment Johnson felt was amplified when he broadcast it to the world. On the other extreme, sometimes in the moment of celebration we over-promise something we can't actually deliver. I think of the Office episode where Michael Scott ends up at a shareholders meeting with the microphone. The crowd starts cheering him and he loses control promising to save the company - something far outside his skill and ability.

I recently had a bad experience with a company's customer service. I too spewed forth on Twitter. I'm thankful that a couple of friends gut-checked me on that one. I blew it. Thankfully I didn't have several thousand followers and a host of media outlets that picked it up. Which brings us to points 6 and 7.

6. Leadership is costly.

When you are in a position of influence, or when your voice carries a lot of weight and/or authority, you pay a great cost. You can live or die on your words. Joe Smith down at the community flag-football game could miss the catch, spew forth on Twitter, and never hear so much as a squeak about it. Not so when you play in the NFL.

Leaders must limit themselves and apply a filter that other people may not have to do. Is that fair? I don't know. But it's reality. As a leader you represent something much bigger than yourself - and that may be your family, your company, your school, or even your church.

7. When you blow it, own it.

No one likes to make mistakes. But when we do, we've got to learn to own our mistakes - especially when they are in plain view of others. Many people fail to do this because they hate to admit defeat - they believe it is weakness. But the truth is that someone that makes a mistake and then owns it is seen as strong, not weak (see the Galarraga story above and the reaction of umpire Jim Joyce).


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