Maybe you're into the NFL. Maybe you're not. That's cool; the league is facing some challenges for sure.
But I've come across some career advice from a pretty successful NFL star that rings as true as anything I've ever read, and I'd like to share it if you haven't seen it.
The source is Danny Amendola, a 32-year-old wide receiver who signed recently with the Miami Dolphins after four years--including two Super Bowl wins (and one loss)--with the New England Patriots. His advice comes from an article recently in The Players Tribune, headlined "A Letter to the Undrafted."
That's how Amendola started his career: every team in the league passed on him several times in the draft. Starting at the lowest rung, he managed ultimately to make it as a player.
His advice is for for players who are now in the position he was in a decade ago. But it's applicable to anyone trying to achieve a career dream. Here are the big takeaways.
1. Be memorable every day.
After the draft, Amendola started his career on the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys, with a "crappy room at an extended stay hotel and a sense of panic every time my phone rang because it might be the cut guy."
He was sure he was always competing for the last paying spot on club. And in that situation, he writes, "the only way to stand out is to do something spectacular every day."
Sure, Amendola talks in football terms: making an impression "on the field ... in the weight room, during film study." But it's a straight line from that specific advice to the contours of your professional work.
Don't worry about your place, no matter where in your career it may be. Just find at least one way to excel and impress every day.
2. Learn the rules.
Each NFL team has a giant playbook that new players need to learn quickly. Absorbing the rules sets you apart.
"You don't need to be fluent in it immediately, but you better get conversational out of the gate," Amendola writes.
Again: straight line applicability to almost any job description. Learn your company's business, not just your role and your job.
3. Make them believe.
Other people make this next point with different words. Fake it until you make it. That sort of thing.
"So what your job comes down to on a day-to-day basis -- and this is true even if you're an established player in this league -- is to not give anyone a reason to think there's anyone who can fill the team's needs better than you," Amendola wrotes..
4. Fail and move on, fast.
"You'll probably be humbled pretty quickly by just how intense the competition is at this level," Amendola writes. The key is to forget about your failures and move on.
After botching one play, he realized, "there was nothing I could really do about that, so I leaned hard into the things I was good at."
5. Do the grunt work--and keep doing it.
Nobody dreams of being on an NFL practice squad, but that's where a lot of undrafted players wind up while they're trying to get a foothold and a career.
"You won't feel like part of the team, but your body is still going to take a beating," Amendola writes. "When I was on the practice squad, it felt like I was just a guy who came in off the street three days a week to help actual NFL players get better. It was unsettling, unfulfilling and there were a few times when I wondered whether I would get my shot."
The only way through? "I kept showing up and kept competing. I was too stubborn to stop."
6. Be professional.
This applies across every career. Do you act like you're at work, when you're at work?
"Are you on time or are you early? Not most days, but every single day. Finally, can you listen? Truly listen. If a coach yells at you, are you paying attention to why he's yelling or do you just shut down because he's yelling?, Amendola writes.
7. Develop relationships with everyone.
It's impossible to predict, or to remember really, everyone who will have an impact on your career. So Amendola's advice is to interact at as high a level as you can with everyone.
After the Cowboys, Amendola was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles--but also to the practice squad. And there, he got a little bit lucky.
A couple of weeks later, one of the Eagles' assistant coaches, Pat Shurmur, left to take a higher position with another team, the (then) St. Louis Rams.
"We only overlapped for a couple of weeks, but we seemed to have a good chemistry," Amendola said. "Two weeks after the Eagles waived me, I got a call that the Rams wanted to sign me. ... That's how fast it can happen."
8. Choose to be lucky.
"A few days later," Amendola continues, "about a year and a half after going undrafted, I played in my first NFL game. A couple of weeks after that, Laurent Robinson broke his ankle and I replaced him as the starter. And that's how I got my break."