From 1980 – 1982, I was known as one of the dirtiest players on my high school football team, and probably in the Academy League as well. I’m not sure why I experienced rage every time I strapped on a helmet but as an offensive lineman, it certainly helped. It wasn’t enough to just protect my quarterback or open a hole for the running back, I wanted my opponent to suffer. My idol at the time was the NFL’s Dirtiest Player Conrad Dobler, who played for the New Orleans Saints. Dobler, also an offensive lineman had a reputation for all manner of dirty play, probably because he was naturally an intense guy and he played on a losing team. I could relate.
My senior year started ignominiously. I was thrown out of our first game after attempting to twist a guy’s head off like a bottle cap after our running back fumbled on the first play from scrimmage. From then we actually started winning games. After three or so in a row, we played The Buckley School, a prep school in Sherman Oaks, CA (where Michael Jackson’s daughter would attend some 30 years later). Buckley had beaten us the previous three years. We started well but soon fell behind. I was more concerned with physically tormenting the defensive tackle opposing me. After 3 quarters of play, we were behind but he was fading. Body shots to the solar plexus, leg whips on his knees, and the occasional elbow to the chin took their toll. As the game neared the end, I looked down at him and taunted him. He looked up and simply said, “look at the scoreboard.”
I never forgot that. We went on to lose most of the rest of our games. After high school I never played football again and that angry teenager is now an old bald man with two hip replacements and a bad back. But every now and then he makes an appearance in traffic jams or at security lines at the airport.
The lesson from the Buckley game is still true today though. Look at the scoreboard.
All of us have tough times in our careers, jobs, or businesses. Sometimes we are pummeled at every turn and get discouraged. The more we focus on that opponent in front of us, the less empowered we feel.
But have you looked at the scoreboard recently?
I felt beat up at the Florida SHRM conference when I was upstaged at my book signing by Dan Rather, but when I looked at the scoreboard, I realized I was winning the overall game in my business.
When I see a LinkedIn connection bragging that “I’m honored to be the keynote speaker today at the National Sock Drawer Arranging Conference,” I sometimes get jealous, but then I just look at the scoreboard.
When you get discouraged, are looking at the problem or the scoreboard?
Every day we need to focus on getting “points” such as a problem solved, a colleague helped, a customer served, or a client created. These little wins accumulate and build up our overall “score.” When you run your score up high enough, an obstacle seems less important when we simply look up and see the scoreboard.
This week, take some time to tally up your scores up to today. Post them someplace visually where you can seem them. Work to add to the score each day. It’s your job to run up the score.
And if you haven’t scored recently, make it a priority to put some points on the board