by Coach Czes (Twitter: @CoachCzes)
(Originally published the day after the Colts released Peyton Manning)
As difficult as it was to watch the Peyton Manning press conference yesterday, it immediately dawned on me that there was a lot to be learned from what was going on. Here was a hero, who has been the face of a successful organization for the last 14 years, standing next to the man who was essentially handing him his walking papers, and addressing the nation about being released from a job he loved.
I realize that both parties said the business side of sports dictated that this was the only way to handle the situation, and I won't profess to know anything about the inner workings of a professional sports franchise. So for the sake of this article, I will take the words spoken at face value and assume the following:
- Peyton Manning loved being a Colt.
- Money and contract did NOT play into this decision.
- Peyton Manning holds only good thoughts and respect for the Colts and Jim Irsay.
- Peyton Manning loves being a quarterback in the NFL and plans to continue his career elsewhere.
The class showed by Peyton, in light of the gut-wrenching news he was delivering, was both inspirational and educational. Peyton, as he has done so many times in his career, had a game plan and executed it flawlessly. He displayed a perfect blend of humility, passion, emotion, gratitude, candor and perspective. In studying the video of this press conference, 5 Life Lessons can be extracted:
- Be Humble, Be Grateful, and Be Thankful.
Peyton thanked the Colts, Jim Irsay, his teammates, the employees, the media, and the fans. His outpouring of gratitude and thanks was the ultimate show of humility. The hero of the franchise standing before the world thanking THEM for all they have given HIM. While I have no doubt this was sincere, this simple act showed why Peyton is such a great leader.
All human beings have ego. Those who let their ego become their defining characteristic are never effective leaders. Those who suppress their ego for a greater cause are easy to love and to follow. Giving thanks and showing humility endears you to those you lead. Make a habit of it.
- Don't Burn Bridges
Not one zinger. Not one snide comment. He threw no one under the proverbial bus. He placed no blame on any individual, nor the organization, for his release. Peyton stood there and thanked his organization as they sent him out to pasture. He took the high road in every sense, and it could not have been easy.
Often, in difficult conversations, we are faced with an internal conflict as to whether to take the high road or get just one "dig" in on our way out the door. As satisfying as it may feel at the time, it is ALWAYS regretted in hindsight. Worse, the more cutting the comment is, the more damage is does to you and your reputation. The offended party is then released of all guilt and feels vindicated because you showed your "true colors" on your way out.
- Remember the Big Picture and Keep Perspective
Peyton chooses to focus on all of the good he has experienced in his career with the Colts. He states that he was blessed to be a part of the organization and to play in the NFL, and that nothing lasts forever. He even pauses at one point to downplay his pain, and reminds us that there are tornado victims in Indiana who are going through a much worse time than he is.
It is very easy to get caught up in our own problems. We are the ones going through them and having to deal with them, and it is easy to let them consume us. When you hit a rough patch, take a step back. Count your blessings and take notice of your surroundings. Things are never as bad as you think.
- Value Relationships with Those You Work With
Show constant appreciation for those around you. Peyton gives one of the best life lessons you can learn when he gets choked up talking about how they have "the greatest equipment guys in the world." He talks about the employees in the organization, and how he wants to thank all of them before he leaves.
How often do you take the time to thank the people around you who do the little things to make your job easier? Coaches, do you know first names of the custodians who clean up after you every night? Do you go out of your way on a regular basis to thank the secretary in your office who does the busy work so you can live your dream? Do you tell your family and your closest colleagues that you appreciate them every day? Nothing in life is more important than relationships. The more you value them, the happier you will be.
- Love What You Do and Embrace the Opportunities to Do It
Peyton has the eye sparkle of a 6-year old unwrapping his first football when he talks about being a quarterback. He loves what he does, he wants to keep doing what he loves, and he is willing to do whatever work is necessary to continue doing so.
Find a way to do what you love for a living and you never work a day in your life. Coaches get this as well as any group I have been around, but even we need to be reminded of this occassionally. Let your passion for your work show and share it with others. Doing so automatically inspires them to work harder and share their passion as well.
Peyton Manning not only showed the class and character that have gotten him where he is today, but in doing so, he showed every other team in the NFL why they should be knocking down his door to make him their next leader.
Wherever he lands, I will be cheering for him.