Go for the Goal
To know my parents is to know they love football, both pro and college. When I was around 10 years old, my dad was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, which is located in Washington D.C. It just so happened to be that my mom was the world’s biggest fan of the Washington Redskins–not just the team, but their famed quarterback, Joe Theismann.
I could be a block away from the house on a Sunday afternoon and hear Mom hollering and cheering at the television. A friend would say, “Hey guys, there’s Brian’s mom cheering the Redskins!”
Dad also knew Mom loved the Redskins and that she liked Joe Theismann. So, when it was announced that Theismann would be making an appearance at a local car dealership, Dad decided to take her. I got to come too.
We walked into the showroom on the evening of Theismann’s appearance. The place was packed with people. A stage had been built in the center of the room. It was surrounded by people and new cars. Dad and I were standing in the back, while Mom eased her way to the middle of the crowd. She wanted a good view.
Theismann said a few words and the crowd applauded. He then picked up a large box filled with mini-footballs. One by one Theismann began to spiral footballs out into the crowd. After doing that three or four times, he reached back into the box, tossing out handfuls at a time.
One of those footballs was tossed in the direction of my Mom. She jumps… her hands are in the air! Somehow her feet and legs go forward. She catches the ball, but instead of landing on her feet, she lands flat on her bottom.
Theismann sees all of it…the whole scene. Politely, he leans over the stage, makes eye contact with Mom and just smiles and giggles. In the back, Dad is doubled over with tears running down his cheeks from laughter.
Mom picks herself up, walks toward Dad and says, “Go ahead. Laugh. But I got a football.”
Dad said, “And you made a memory for old Joe.”
Everyone laughed. It’s a favorite family story.
Mom’s example can teach us a leadership lesson: don’t worry about what the crowd thinks of you when you go for the goal.
Who cares if people were laughing or Joe Theismann never forgot her–she got what she wanted. Many leaders get frozen in place until everything is right: the image, the process, and the team. Others bumble and fumble their way to the goal. Don’t hesitate; instead, take a cue from Mom and jump for it anyway. Sure, you may end up on your butt; then again, you might just come up with the ball.
Leadership is a relentless series of ups and downs. Even if you don’t land on your feet at first, you can find a way to win. Be like Mom…jump for the goal!
Not only will your organization make progress, but your leadership ability will grow. You never know, you may make a Super Bowl-winning quarterback smile and laugh.