It was December 10, 2017 and the Philadelphia Eagles were playing the Los Angeles Rams. As he was diving toward the end zone, Carson Wentz (starting quarterback for the Eagles) got mangled as a couple of Rams defenders tried to stop him. Although he would walk off the field, it was apparent that he wasn't himself. Eagles fan's worst nightmare came true as Wentz (who was having an MVP season) was diagnosed with a torn ACL.
Enter Nick Foles. Before that moment, Foles had only played in a handful of games and thrown a total of four passes. It was safe to say that Eagles fans had given up hopes that 2018 would be the year they brought home the Lombardi trophy.
As everyone knows, the rest is history. Foles would go on to lead the Eagles to a conference championship and snag the Eagles first ever super bowl victory.
Foles' story got me thinking about careers in general. In an instant, our "number" could be called. Many of us are only one situation away from a big break that could be a defining moment in our careers -- if we seize it.
Here are three lessons everyone can learn from Foles' story and how he was able to capitalize on an opportunity that will go down in history.
1. Play your game.
The pressure to fill Carson Wentz's shoes would have been too much for even some of the best franchise quarterbacks to handle. No matter how hard he would have tried, Foles would have never been able to run the offense or make the same plays as Wentz.
Unfortunately, when given the opportunity to step in for others, we often try to match their style and completely disregard our own strengths. We second guess our abilities while comparing ourselves to others. We try to follow in the previous incumbent's footsteps and in the process, never evolve the role to complement our own skills -- setting ourselves up for failure.
Foles didn't. He played to his strengths, trusted in his abilities and played the game in the only way he knew how.
Each one of us has our own version of success, and it takes courage to pursue it.
2. Lean on your "teammates."
Especially in leadership roles, there's an inclination that you have to figure everything out on your own. That if you ask for help, you'll seem vulnerable or ill-equipped.
Foles knew that he would need everyone's cooperation if they were going to beat the Patriots. In an interview with NBC before the big game, Foles was asked about his strategy:
"Our strength is the team. We lean on each other. You don't have to go out there and do it by yourself...
When you know that you're all on the same page, you don't have to do anything special. Just go out with your teammates and give everything you have."
Sometimes great leadership has nothing to do with your own skills, but the know-how to orchestrate and maximize the abilities of those around you.
You don't have to do it alone. There are others who can complement your skill sets, fill in the gaps, and help bare the load -- if you let them.
3. Don't make it about you.
Our careers (as much as we hate to admit) are not an individual sport. It's counterintuitive, but typically when we set off to find our own version of success, we seldom find it. It's when we commit and lose ourselves to a cause that success and happiness usually finds us.
Foles played for his teammates. He put the good of the team ahead of his own agenda and in the process, everyone befitted -- which in my opinion is even sweeter. The worry shouldn't be about finding success but in finding a cause that's worthy of your sacrifice and service.
The best opportunities are typically never planned or foreseen. These thoughts from Foles' story are great ways to turn unexpected events into career-changing opportunities. We should all be ready if our number gets called.